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REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM. Holidfty Edi- 
tion. Illuttrated. Crown 8to, $1.50. 

SUSANNA AND SUE. Illustrated bjr Aucs Bakus 
Stbfhbns* Crown 8yOi ^1.50 ntt, Po«age 15 ccnta^ 

THE OLU PEABODY PEW With dcconuoos and 
iUiutraiioDi. Lu|;e crown Svo. fi.fo • 

REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM, lamo.fi.if. 

NEW CMRONiCLES OF REBECCA, lllostrated bf 

v. c VuiiN. limci. f i.xs- 
ROSE o* THE River. lUustrikted in color, lano.li.as* 
THE AFFAIR AT THE INN Illustrated, iimo. >iJS- 
THE DIARY OF A GOOSE GIRL. Illustrated, itno, 

li.oo. 
A CATHEDRAL COURTSHIP. AND PENELOPE'S 

ENGLISH EXPERIENCES. Illustrated, ibno, >i.oo. 
PENELOPE'S PROGRESS i<>mo. Jd.xs- 
PENELOPE'S IRISH EXPERIENCES. i6mo, |i.>$. 
PENELOPE'S EXPERIENCES. I. Enjrland; II. Scot- 
land ; 1 1 1 . IrrLind : Hottd^ty Edition, Wiih nany illua* 

irations bv L'hari.bs K. Bk(xk. j vols., each iaBM>, 

^j lo: ihr set. ffvu*. 
A CATHEDRAL COURTSHIP, tidtday Fditi^m^ eo- 

Ur|{id. lilu^traird by C. K Drock. ixnio, #1.50. 
THE BIRDS' CHRISTMAS CAROL Illustrated. Square 

ismo, 50 crnts 
THE STORY OF PATSY. Illustrated. Square lamo, 

**» ceiiU. 
A SUMMER IN A CANON. A Calilomia Story. Illus- 

Irjiril. I'linii, ^1 1|- 

TiMOTHY'S QUEST .\ Slorv fur Anybody. Voang or 
( >]ii, «hii t4rc4 lu rraH it. 1' niu. %\ 00 
liclidiy t.dittx'n. I!.u^!ratrll. C ri'wn ffvn, I1.50. 

PO. LY OL!VCR'S PROBLEM IKi.^irjinl. I'mio, li.oo. 

Ill kiiri* >!■ *«ih>iiil l.ilirjr\ '•• ccntK. n^r .- postpaid. 
THE Village WA^Cm tower, ifino, f i.(«. 
MARM LSA i'.nin. fi.o.. 

NiNE LOVE *^ONGS. AND A CAROL Munc bv Mre. 
Wi..<.iN. Wiirds by HbkrIlIC. SiLi.. and utkers. 
Square ^\ty, f 1.15. 

IUir(;HinN MIMI.IN COMI'ANY 

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REBECCA 
OF SUNNYBROOK FARM 



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REBECCA 

OF 
SUNNYBROOK FARM 

iy 
Kate Douglas JViggin 

ILLUSTRATED 
HOLIDAY EDITION 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 



/AL^/fc3.5.3f.30 



HARVARD 

UNIVERSITY 

UBRARY 



eowBMar 19^ sv katb oooolas mow 



ALL mwrn b 



TO MY MOTHER 



PUBLISHERS' NOTE 

RiBiccA OF SuNNYBROOK Faric was fifst pubUshed 
October 7, 1903. Within a few days its popularity was 
assured, and within seven years it has attained the 
extraordinary sale of 337,000 copies, without the aid 
of either illustrations or sensational advertising. No 
book of recent years has succeeded in pleasing so many 
classes of readers, — the youthful and the aged, the dis- 
criminating critic and the reader who reads for sheer 
pleasure* " Rebecca is delightful from beginning to end ; 
she is just the nicest child in American literature, *' said 
Thomas Bailey Aldrich, the author of '* The Story of a 
Bad Boy," and perhaps there can be no better descrip- 
tion of youthful Rebecca. As a classic for old and jroung, 
" Rebecca " will take rank beside " Little Women " in 
the hearts of the American public, who minj^e tears and 
smiles in affectionate interest over her p rogress toward 
womanhood. It has been translated into several lan- 
guages, and is used for English reading in the public 
schools of Berlin. 

In November last Messrs. Klaw and Erlanger pro- 
duced a dramatic version of " Rebecca," the dramatiza- 
tion being made by the author herself, with the assist- 
ance of Miss Charlotte Thompson. Its success was in- 
stantaneous, and the play, which was seen during the 
winter in New England, will continue its run in New 
York and elsewhere during the present season* 



vui PUBLISHERS' NOTE 

It has been thought by the publishers that a new edi- 
tion, containing reproductions of photographs taken of 
the play and the players, would be of interest and value 
alike to those who witnessed the performances and to 
those who have been unable to do so. They have availed 
themselves, therefore, of this opportunity to issue a 
handsome library edition of ** Rebecca of Sunnybrook 
Farm" worthy, it is hoped, of a permanent place in 
American literature. 

4 Par A Strgtt,/mfy, tgio. 



CONTENTS 

L •• WE ARE SEVEN •• '^3 

IL REBECCA'S RELATIONS 33 

IIL A DIFFERENCE IN HEARTS 31 

IV. REBECCA'S POINT OF VIEW 43 

V. WISDOM'S WAYS 49 

VI. SUNSHINE IN A SHADY PLACE .... 63 

VIL RIVERBORO SECRETS 73 

VUL COLOR OF ROSE 83 

DC. ASHES OF ROSES 90 

X. RAINBOW BRIDGES 100 

XL -THE STIRRING OF THE POWERS" . . 109 

XIL "SEE THE PALE. MARTYR" 118 

Xin. SNOW-WHITE; kOSE-RED 131 

XIV. MR. ALADDIN 139 

XV. THE BANQUET LAMP 149 

XVL SEASONS OF GROWTH 159 

XVIL GRAY DAYS AND GOLD 171 

XVIIL REBECCA REPRESENTS THE FAMILY . 180 
XIX. DEACON ISRAEL'S SUCCESSOR .... 191 

XX. A CHANGE OF HEART 301 

XXL THE SKY LINE WIDENS sii 

XXIL CLOVER BLOSSOMS AND SUNFLOWERS 224 

XXIIL THE HILL DIFFICULTY 239 

XXIV. ALADDIN RUBS HIS LAMP 147 

XXV. ROSES OF JOY 258 

XXVL OVER THE TEACUPS 172 



X CONTENTS 

XXVIL -THE VISION SPLENDID- aSs 

XXVIII. -TH' INEVITABLE YOKE" 293 

XXIX. MOTHER AND DAUGHTER 306 

XXX. -GOOD-BV, SUNNVBROOKr 315 

XXXL AUNT MIRANDA'S APOLOGY 313 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



I HOPE WE HAVE A LONG, LONG WAYS TO 

GO (page 8) Ftrmti^fiiu 

Prom a dnwiiif bj P. C Yolw 

REBECCA'S JOURNEY HAD ENDED is 

I'LL TAKE IT UP FOR YE NOW 36 

REBECCA 70 

SITTING IN MRS. COBB'S SEAT 100 

ARE YOU SURE YOU CAN AFFORD IT .... 144 

I 'M NOT NEARLY A YOUNG LADY YET ... 253 

AFTER THE GRADUATION 290 

REBECCA AND AUNT MIRANDA yit 

PkMB pholograpbt ol tfat pbj 



REBECCA 
OF SUNNYBROOK FARM 



REBECCA OF SUNNYBROOK FARM 



"WE ARE SEVEN- 

THE old stage coach was rumbling along 
the dusty road that runs from Maple- 
wood to Riverboro. The day was as warm 
as midsummer, though it was only the middle of 
May, and Mr. Jeremiah Cobb was favoring the 
horses as much as possible, yet never losing sight 
oi the fact that he carried the mail The hills were 
many, and the reins lay loosely in his hands as he 
lolled back in his seat and extended one foot and 
leg luxuriously over the dashboard. His brimmed 
hat of worn felt was well pulled over his eyes, and 
he revolved a quid of tobacco in his left cheek. 

There was one passenger in the coach, — a small 
dark-haired person in a glossy buff calico dress. 
She was so slender and so stiffly starched that 
she slid from space to space on the leather cush- 
ions, though she braced herself against the middle 
seat with her feet and extended her cotton-gloved 
bands on each side, in order to maintain some sort 
of balance. Whenever the wheels sank farther than 
usual into a rut, or jolted suddenly over a stone, 
she bounded involuntarily into the air, came down 
again, pushed back her funny little straw hat, and 
^cked up or settled more firmly a small pink sun- 



4 REBECCA 

shades which seemed to be her chief responsilMk 
ity, — unless we except a bead purse, into which 
she looked whenever the condition of the roads 
would permit, finding great apparent satisfaction 
in that its precious contents neither disappeared 
nor grew less. Mr. Cobb guessed nothing of these 
harassing details of travel, his business being to 
carry people to their destinations, not, necessarily, 
to make them comfortable on the way. Indeed he 
had forgotten the very existence of this one un» 
noteworthy little passenger. 

When he was about to leave the post-office in 
Maplewood that morning, a woman had alighted 
from a wagon, and coming up to him, inquired 
whether this were the Riverboro stage, and if he 
were Mr. Cobb. Being answered in the affirma> 
tive, she nodded to a child who was eagerly waiting 
for the answer, and who ran towards her as if she 
feared to be a moment too late. The child might 
have been ten or eleven years old perhaps, but 
whatever the number of her summers, she had an 
air of being small for her age. Her mother helped 
her into the stage coach, deposited a bundle and 
a bouquet of lilacs beside her, superintended the 
*' roping on " behind of an old hair trunk, and finally 
paid the fare, counting out the silver with great 
care. 

'* I want you should take her to my sisters* 
ia Riverboro," she said. "Do you know Ifi- 



REBECCA 5 

randy and Jane Sawyer? They live in the brick 
house.*' 

Lord bless your soul, he knew 'em as well as 
if he 'd made 'em I 

** Welly she 's going there, and they 're expecting 
her. Will you keep an eye on her, please ? If she 
can get out anywhere and get with folks, or get 
anybody in to keep her company, she '11 do it 
Good-by, Rebecca ; try not to get into any mischief 
and sit quiet, so you 11 look neat an' nice when 
you get there. Don't be any trouble to Mr. Coblx 
— You see^ she *s kind of excited. — We came on 
the cars from Temperance yesterday, slept all night 
at my cousin's, and drove from her house — eight 
mOes it is — this morning." 

^Good-by, mother, don't worry; you know it 
is n't as if I had n't traveled before." 

The woman gave a short sardonic laugh and said 
in an explanatory way to Mr. Cobb, ** She 's been to 
Wareham and stayed over night ; that is n't much 
to be jotumey-proud on I " 

^'It was travelings mother," said the child ea> 
gerly and willfully. ** It was leaving the farm, and 
putting up lunch in a basket, and a little riding 
and a little steam cars, and we carried our night* 
gowns." 

** Don't tell the whole village about it, if we did,'* 
said the mother, interrupting the reminiscences of 
tfiis experienced voyager. '* Have n't I toki yoo 



6 REBECCA 

before,** 8he whispered, in a last attempt at dia* 
cipline, '' that you should n't talk about night- 
gowns and stockings and — things like that, in a 
loud tone of voice, and especially when there's 
men folks round ? *' 

" I know, mother, I know, and I won't All I 
want to say is " — here Mr. Cobb gave a cluck, 
slapped the reins, and the horses started sedately 
on their daily task — " all I want to say is that it 
is a jotumey when " — the stage was really under 
way now and Rebecca had to put her head out of 
the window over the door in order to finish her 
sentence — ''it is a journey when you carry a 
nightgown I " 

The objectionable word, uttered in a high treble, 
floated back to the offended ears of Mrs. Randall, 
who watched the stage out of sight, gathered up 
her packages from the bench at the store door, 
and stepped into the wagon that had been standing 
at the hitching-post As she turned the horse's 
head towards home she rose to her feet for a mo- 
ment, and shading her eyes with her hand, looked 
at a cloud of dust in the dim distance. 

"Mirandy '11 have her hands full, I guess," she 
said to herself ; " but I should n't wonder if it would 
be the making of Rebecca." 

All this had been half an hour ago, and the sun, 
the heat, the dust, the contemplation of errands to 
be done in the great metropolis of Milltown* had 



REBECCA 7 

Uled Mr. G>bb's never active mind into complete 
oblivion as to his promise of keeping an eye on 
Rebecca. 

Suddenly he heard a small voice above the rattle 
and nimble of the wheels and the creaking of the 
harness. At first he thought it was a cricket, a tree 
toad, or a bird, but having determined the direction 
from which it came, he turned his head over his 
shoulder and saw a small shape hanging as far out 
of the window as safety would allow. A long black 
braid of hair swung with the motion of the coach ; 
the child held her hat in one hand and with the 
other made ine£fectual attempts to stab the driver 
with her micn>scopic sunshade. 

*" Please let me speak I " she called 

Mr. Cobb drew up the horses obediently. 

^Does it cost any more to ride up there with 
you ? " she asked. ** It 's so slippery and shiny down 
here^ and the stage is so much too big for me, that 
I rattle round in it till I 'm 'most black and blue. 
And the windows are so small I can only see pieces 
of things, and I Ve 'most broken my neck stretch- 
ing round to find out whether my trunk has fallen 
off the back. It *s my mother's trunk, and she *s 
very choice of it" 

Mr. G>bb waited until this flow of conversation^ 
or more properly speaking this flood of criticisnit 
had ceased, and then said jocularly : — 

"You am come op if you want to; there ain*l 



8 REBECCA 

BO txtiy durge to sit side o' mc" Whereupon b« 
helped her out, " boosted " her up to the front scat, 
snd resumed his own place. 

Rebecca sat down carefully, sniootbiag her dress 
under her with painstalung precision, and putting 
her sunshade under its extended folds between the 
driver and herw:lf. This done she pushed back her 
hat, pulled up her darned white cotton gloves, and 
■aid delightedly : — 

*■ Oh ! this is better I This is like traveling I I 
am a real passenger now, aiul down there I felt like 
our setting hen when we shut her up in a coop I 
hope we have a long, long ways to go f " 

"Oh ! we've only just started on it," Mr. Cobb 
responded genially ; " it 's more 'a two hours." 

" Only two hours," she sighed . " That will be 
half past one ; mother will be at cousin Ann's, the 
chDdren at home will have had their dinner, and 
Hannah cleared all away. I have some lunch, be- 
ctuae mother said it would be a bad beginning to get 
to the brick house hungry and have aunt Mirandy 
have to get me something to eat the first thing. — 
It *i a good growing day, is n't it ? " 

" It is, mtain ; too hot, most Why don't you 
]Mt up your parasol I " 

She extended her dress still farther over the aiv 
tide in question as she said, " Oh dear no ! I never 
pat it up when the sun sbinca ; pink fades awfully, 
y«Q know, and I only carry it to mcctin' cloudy 



J 



REBECCA 9 

Sundays; sometimes the sun comes out all of a 
sudden, and I have a dreadful time covering it up ; 
it 's the dearest thing in life to me, but it 's an awful 
care." 

At this moment the thought gradually permeated 
Mr. Jeremiah Cobb's slow-moving mind that the 
bird perched by his side was a bird of very di£ferent 
feather from those to which he was accustomed in 
his daily drives. He put the whip back in its socket, 
took his foot from the dashboard, pushed his hat 
back, blew his quid of tobacco into the road, and hav- 
ing thus cleared his mental decks for action, he took 
his first good look at the passenger, a look which 
she met with a grave, childlike stare of friendly 
curiosity. 

The buff calico was faded, but scrupulously clean, 
and starched within an inch of its life. From the 
little standing ruffle at the neck the child's slender 
throat rose very brown and thin, and the head looked 
small to bear the weight of dark hair that hung in 
a thick braid to her waist. She wore an odd little 
vizored cap of white leghorn, which may either have 
been the latest thing in children's hats, or some bit 
of ancient finery furbished up for the occasion. It 
was trimmed with a twist of buff ribbon and a clus- 
ter of black and orange porcupine quills, which hung 
or bristled stiffly over one ear, giving her the quaint- 
est and most unusual appearance. Her face was 
without color and sharp in outline. As to features^ 



lo REBECCA 

she must have had the usual number, though Mc 
Cobb's attention never proceeded so far as nose, 
forehead, or chin, being caught on the way and held 
fast by the eyes. Rebecca's eyes were like faith, — 
** the substance of things hoped for, the evidence 
of things not seen." Under her delicately etched 
brows they glowed like two stars, their dancing 
lights half hidden in lustrous darkness. Their 
glance was eager and full of interest, yet never sat- 
isfied ; their steadfast gaze was brilliant and myste* 
rious, and had the effect of looking directly through 
the obvious to something beyond^ in the object, in 
the landscape, in you. They had never been ac- 
counted for, Rebecca's eyes. The school teacher 
and the minister at Temperance had tried and 
failed ; the young artist who came for the summer 
to sketch the red bam, the ruined mill, and the 
bridge ended by gi\ing up all these local beauties 
and devoting herself to the face of a child, — a 
small, plain face illuminated by a pair of eyes carry- 
ing such messages, such suggestions, such hints of 
sleeping power and insight, that one ne\'er tired of 
looking into their shining depths, nor of fancying 
that what one saw there was the reflection of one's 
own thought. 

Mr. Cobb made none of these generalizations; 
bis remark to his wife that night was simply to the 
effect that whenever the child looked at him she 
knocked him galley -west 



REBECCA If 

^Miss Ross, a lady that paints, gave me the 
tunshade," said Rebecca, when she had exchanged 
looks with Mr. Cobb and learned his face by heart 
^ Did you notice the pinked double ruffle and the 
white tip and handle ? They 're ivory. The handle 
is scarred, you see. That 's because Fanny sucked 
and chewed it in meeting when I was n't looking. 
I Ve never felt the same to Fanny since." 

" Is Fanny your sister ? " 

" She 's one of them." 

" How many are there of you ? " 

"Seven. There's verses written about seven 
children : — 

*«< Quick was the Uttle Maid'i -eplj, 
O master I we are seren I ' 

I learned it to speak in school, but the scholars 
were hateful and laughed. Hannah is the oldest. I 
come next, then John, then Jenny, then Mark, then 
Fanny, then Mira." 

"WeU, that is a big family 1 " 

" Far too big, everybody says," replied Rebecca 
with an unexpected and thoroughly grown-up can- 
dor that induced Mr. Cobb to murmur, " I swan I " 
and insert more tobacco in his left cheek. 

•* They 're dear, but such a bother, and cost so 
much to feed, you see," she rippled on. '* Hannah 
and I have n't done anything but put babies to bed 
at night and take them up in the morning for years 
and years. But it 's finished, that 's one comfort, 



13 REBECCA 

and we 'II have a lovely time when we 're all grown 
up and the mortgage is paid ofiF." 

''AH finished? Oh, you mean you've come 
away ? " 

** No, I mean they 're all over and done with ; 
our family 's finished. Mother says so, and she al- 
ways keeps her promises. There has n't been any 
since Mira, and she's three. She was bom the 
day father died. Aunt Miranda wanted Hannah 
to come to Riverboro instead of me, but mother 
could n't spare her ; she takes hold of housework 
better than I do, Hannah does. I told mother last 
night if there was likely to be any more children 
while I was away I 'd have to be sent for, for when 
there's a baby it always takes Hannah and me 
both, for mother has the cooking and the farm." 

" Oh, you live on a farm, do yc ? Where is it ? 
— near to where you got on ? " 

"Near? Whv, it must be thousamls of miles! 
We came from Temperance in the cars. Then we 
drove a long ways to cousin Ann's and went to bed. 
Then we got up and drove ever so far to Maple- 
wood, where the stage was. Our farm is away off 
from evcr)'wheres, but our school and meeting- 
house is at Tcmpemncc, and that *s only two miles. 
Sitting up here with you is most as good as climb- 
ing the meeting-house steeple. I know a boy who 's 
been up on our steeple. He said the ]>coplc and 
cows looked like flies. We have n*t met any people 



REBECCA 13 

jret, but I *ni kind of disappointed in the cows ; — 
they don't look so little as I hoped they would ; 
still (brightening) they don*t look quite as big as 
if we were down side of them, do they ? Boys al« 
ways do the nice splendid things, and girls can only 
do the nasty dull ones that get left over. They 
can't climb so high, or go so far, or stay out so 
late, or run so fast, or anything." 

Mr. Cobb wiped his mouth on the back of his 
hand and g^ped. He had a feeling that he was b» 
ing hurried from peak to peak of a mountain range 
without time to take a good breath in between. 

"I can't seem to locate your farm," he said, 
** though I 've been to Temperance and used to live 
up that way. What *s your folks' name ? " 

'' Randall My mother's name is Aurelia Ran^ 
dall; our names are Hannah Lucy Randall, Re- 
becca Rowena Randall, John Halifax Randall, Jenny 
Lind Randall, Marquis Randall, Fanny Ellsler 
Randall, and Miranda Randall Mother named half 
of us and father the other half, but we did n't come 
out even, so they both thought it would be nice to 
name Mira after aunt Miranda in Riverboro ; they 
hoped it might do some good, but it did n't, and now 
we call her Mira. We are all named after some- 
body in particular. Hannah is Hannah at the 
Window Binding Shoes, and I am taken out of 
Ivanhoe ; John Halifax was a gentleman in a book ; 
Mark is after his uncle Marquis de Lafayette that 



14 REBECCA 

died a twin* (Twins very often don't live to grow 
up, and triplets almost never — did you know that, 
Mr. Cobb ?) We don't call him Marquis, only Mark. 
Jenny is named for a singer and Fanny for a beauti- 
ful dancer, but mother says they 're both misfits, for 
Jenny can't carry a tune and Fanny's kind of stiff- 
legg^ Mother would like to call them Jane and 
Frances and give up their middle names, but she 
says it wouldn't be fair to father. She says we 
must always stand up for father, because everything 
was against him, and he would n't have died if he 
had n't had such bad luck. I think that 's all there 
b to tell about us,*' she finished seriously. 

"Land o' Liberty! I should think it was 
enough,** ejaculated Mr. Cobb. "There wa'n't 
many names left when your mother got through 
choosin* I You 've got a powerful good memory I 
I guess it ain*t no trouble for you to learn your 
lessons, is it ? " 

** Not much ; the trouble is to get the shoes to 
g^ and learn 'em. These arc spandy new I 've got 
on, and they have to last six months. Mother al- 
ways says to save my shoes. There don*t seem 
to be any way of saving shoes but taking 'cm off 
and going barefoot ; but I can't do that in Rivcr- 
boro without shaming aunt Mirandy. I 'm going to 
school right along now when I 'm living with aunt 
Mirandy, and in two years I 'm going to the semi- 
nary at Wareham ; mother says it ought to be the 



REBECCA 15 

making of me I I 'm going to be a painter like Miss 
Ross when I get through school At any rate, that 's 
what / think I 'm going to be. Mother thinks I 'd 
better teach." 1 

" Your farm ain't the old Hobbs place, is it ? " 

" No, it 's just Randall's Farm. At least that 'a 
what mother calls it. I call it Sunnybrook Farm«" 

'' I guess it don't make no difference what you 
call it so long as you know where it is," remarked 
Mr. Cobb sententiously. 

Rebecca turned the full light of her eyes upon 
him reproachfully, almost severely, as she an- 
swered : — 

'* Oh I don't say that, and be like all the rest I It 
does make a difference what you call things. When 
I say Randall's Farm, do you see how it looks ? " 

" No, I can't say I do," responded Mr. Cobb un- 
easily. 

** Now when I say Sunnybrook Farm, what does 
it make you think of ? " 

Mr. Cobb felt like a fish removed from his native 
element and left panting on the sand ; there was 
no evading the awful responsibility of a reply, for 
Rebecca's eyes were searchlights, that pierced the 
fiction of his brain and perceived the bald spot on 
the back of his head. 

" I s'pose there 's a brook somewheres near it," 
he said timorously. 

Rebecca looked disappointed but not quite dis- 



i6 REBECCA 

heartened ^That's pretty good/' she said en- 
couragingly. ** You 're warm but not hot ; there 's 
a brook, but not a common brook. It has young 
trees and baby bushes on each side of it, and it 's a 
shallow chattering little brook with a white sandy 
bottom and lots of little shiny pebbles. Whenever 
there 's a bit of sunshine the brook catches it, and 
it's always full of sparkles the livelong day. 
Don't your stomach feel hollow? Mine does I I 
was so 'fraid I 'd miss the stage I could n't eat any 
breakfast" 

•* You 'd better have your lunch, then. I don't 
eat nothin' till I get to Milltown; then I get a 
piece o' pie and cup o' coffee." 

''I wish I could see Milltown. I suppose it's 
bigger and grander even than Wareham ; more like 
P^is ? Miss Ross told me about Paris ; she bought 
my pink sunshade there and my bead purse. You 
tee how it opens with a snap ? I 've twenty cents 
in it, and it 's got to last three months, for stamps 
and paper and ink. Mother says aunt Mirandy 
won't want to buy things like those when she 's 
feeding and clothing me and paying for my school* 
books." 

''Paris ain't no great," said Mr. Cobb dispara- 
gingly. "It's the dullest place in the State o' 
Mahie. I 've druv there many a time." 

Again Rebecca was obliged to reprove Mr. Cobb, 
tacitly and quietly, but none the less surely, though 



REBECCA 17 

die reproof was dealt with one glance, quickly sent 
and as quickly withdrawn. 

^ Paris is the capital of France, and you have to 
go to it on a boat/' she said instructively. ** It 's in 
my geography, and it says : ' The French are a gay 
and polite people, fond of dancing and light wines.* 
I asked the teacher what light wines were, and he 
thought it was something like new cider, or maybe 
ginger pop. I can see Paris as plain as day by just 
shutting my eyes. The beautiful ladies are always 
gayly dancing around with pink sunshades and 
bead purses, and the g^nd gentlemen are politely 
dancing and drinking ginger pop. But you can see 
Milltown most every day with your eyes wide 
open'," Rebecca said wistfully. 

** Milltown ain't no great, neither," replied Mr. 
Cobb, with the air of having visited all the cities of 
the earth and found them as naught " Now you 
watch me heave this newspaper right onto Mis* 
Brown's doorstep." 

Piff I and the packet landed exactly as it was 
intended, on the com husk mat in front of the 
screen door. 

" Oh, how splendid that was ! " cried Rebecca 
with enthusiasm. "Just like the knife thrower 
Mark saw at the circus. I wish there was a long, 
long row of houses each with a com husk mat and 
a screen door in the middle, and a newspaper to 
throw on every one I " 



i8 REBECCA 



U 



I might fafl on some of 'em, you know/' said 
Mr. Cobb, beaming with modest pride. ''If your 
aunt Mirandy'll let you, I'll take you down to 
Milltown some day this summer when the stage 
ain't full" 

A thrill of delicious excitement ran through Re* 
becca's frame, from her new shoes up, up to the 
leghorn cap and down the black braid. She pressed 
Mr. Cobb's knee ardently and said in a voice chok- 
ing with tears of joy and astonishment, '' Oh, it 
can't be true, it can't ; to think I should see Mill- 
town. It 's like having a fairy godmother who asks 
you your wish and then gives it to you I Did you 
ever read Cinderella, or The Yellow Dwarf, or The 
Enchanted Frog, or The Fair One with Golden 
Locks ? " 

" No," said Mr. Cobb cautiously, after a moment's 
reflection. '* I don't seem to think I ever did read 
jest those partic'lar ones. Where 'd you get a 
chance at so much readin' ? " 

'' Oh, I 've read lots of books," answered Re- 
becca casually. ** Father's and Miss Ross's and all 
the difrent school teachers', and all in the Sunday- 
school library. I 've read The Lamplighter, and 
Scottish Chiefs, and Ivanhoe, and The Heir of Red' 
clyfiFe, and Cora, the Doctor's Wife, and David Cop- 
perfield, and The Gold of Chickaree, and Plutarch's 
Lives, and Thaddeus of Warsaw, and Pilgrim's Pro* 
gressi and lots more. — What have you read ? " 



REBECCA T9 

''I've never happened to read those particular 
books ; but land ! I Ve read a sight in my time I 
Nowadays I 'm so drove I get along with the Al- 
manac, the Weekly Argus, and the Maine State 
Agriculturist. — There 's the river again ; this is 
the last long hill, and when we get to the top of it 
we'll see the chimbleys of Riverboro in the dis- 
tance. 'T ain't fur. I live 'bout half a mile beyond 
the brick house myself." 

Rebecca's hand stirred nervously in her lap and 
she moved in her seat. *' I did n't think I was go- 
ing to be afraid," she said almost under her breath ; 
*' but I guess I am, just a little mite — when you 
say it 's coming so near." 

" Would you go back ? " asked Mr. Cobb curi- 
ously. 

She flashed him an intrepid look and then said 
proudly, " I 'd never go back — I might be fright- 
ened, but I 'd be ashamed to run. Going to aunt 
Mirandy's is like going down cellar in the dark. 
There might be ogres and giants under the stairs, 
— but, as I tell Hannah, there mi^At be elves and 
fairies and enchanted frogs I — Is there a main 
street to the village, like that in Wareham ?" 

*' I s'pose you might call it a main street, an' 
your aunt Sawyer lives on it, but there ain't no 
stores nor mills, an' it 's an awful one-horse vil* 
lage ! You have to go 'cross the river an' get on 
to our tide if you want to see anything goin' on." 



90 REBECCA 

''I'm almost sorry," she sighed, ''because it 
Rrould be so gjand to drive down a real main street. 
Bitting high up like this behind two splendid horses, 
with my pink sunshade up, and everybody in town 
wondering who the bunch of lilacs and the hair 
trunk belongs to. It would be just like the beau- 
tiful lady in the parade. Last summer the circus 
came to Temperance, and they had a procession in 
the morning. Mother let us all walk in and wheel 
Mira in the baby carriage, because we couldn't 
a£Ford to go to the circus in the afternoon. And 
there were lovely horses and animals in cages, and 
clowns on horseback ; and at the very end came a 
little red and gold chariot drawn by two ponies, and 
in it, sitting on a velvet cushion, was the snake 
charmer, all dressed in satin and spangles. She was 
so beautiful beyond compare, Mr. Cobb, that you 
had to swallow lumps in your throat when you 
looked at her, and little cold feelings crept up and 
down your back. Don't you know how I mean ? 
Did n't you ever see anybody that made you feci 
like that ? " 

Mr. Cobb was more distinctly uncomfortable at 
this moment than he had been at any one time 
during the eventful morning, but he evaded the 
point dexterously by saying, " There ain't no harm, 
as I can see, in our makin' the grand entry in the 
biggest style we can. I '11 take the whip out, set 
up straight, an' drive fast ; you hold your bo'quet 



REBECCA « 

in your lap, an' open your little red parasol, an' 
we 'II jest make the natives stare I " 

The child's face was radiant for a moment, but 
the glow faded just as quickly as she said, '' I for- 
got — mother put me inside, and maybe she 'd want 
me to be there when I got to aunt Mirandy'a 
Maybe I 'd be more genteel inside, and then I 
would n't have to be jumped down and my clothes 
fly up, but could open the door and step down like 
a lady passenger. Would you please stop a minute, 
Mr. Cobb, and let me change ? " 

The stage driver good-naturedly pulled up his 
horses, lifted the excited little creature down, opened 
the door, and helped her in, putting the lilacs and 
the pink sunshade beside her. 

" We 've had a great trip," he said, " and we *ve 
got real well acquainted, have n't we ? — You won't 
forget about Milltown ? " 

" Never ! " she exclaimed fervently ; " and you 're 
sure you won't, either ? " 

"Never! Cross my heart!" vowed Mr. Cobb 
solemnly, as he remounted his perch ; and as the 
stage rumbled down the village street between the 
gjeen maples, those who looked from their windows 
saw a little brown elf in buff calico sitting primly 
on the back seat holding a great bouquet tightly in 
one hand and a pink parasol in the other. Had they 
been farsighted enough they might have seen, when 
the stage turned into the side dooryard of the old 



22 REBECCA 

brick bouse, a calico yoke rising and falling tern* 
pestuously over the beating heart beneath, the red 
color coming and going in two pale cheeks, and a 
mist of tears swimming in two brilliant dark eyes. 

Rebecca's journey had ended. 

"There's the stage tumin* into the Sawyer 
girls' dooryard/' said Mrs. Perkins to her husband. 
** That must be the niece from up Temperance way. 
It seems they wrote to Aurelia and invited Hannah, 
the oldest, but Aurelia said she could spare Rebecca 
better, if 't was all the same to Mirandy 'n* Jane ; 
so it 's Rebecca that 's come. She '11 be good 
comp'ny for our Emma Jane, but I don't believe 
they 'U keep her three months I She looks black 
as an Injun what I can see of her ; black and kind 
of up-an-comin'. They used to say that one o' the 
Randalls married a Spanish woman, somebody 
that was teachin' music and languages at a boardin' 
school. Lorenzo was dark complected, you remem- 
ber, and this child is, too. Well, I don't know as 
Spanish blood is any real disgrace, not if it 's a good 
ways back and the woman was respectable." 




kl.BH.LAS JuLK.SKV HAb KNllLII 



II 

REBECCA'S RELATIONS 

THEY had been called the Sawyer girls when 
Miranda at eighteen, Jane at twelve, and 
Aurelia at eight participated in the various 
activities of village life ; and when Riverboro fell 
into a habit of thought or speech, it saw no reason 
for falling out of it, at any rate in the same century. 
So although Miranda and Jane were between fifty 
and sixty at the time this story opens, Riverboro 
still called them the Sawyer girls. They were spin- 
sters ; but Aurelia, the youngest, had made what 
she called a romantic marriage and what her sisters 
termed a mighty poor speculation. " There *s worse 
things than bcin' old maids," they said; whether 
they thought so is quite another matter. 

The element of romance in Aurclia's marriage 
existed chiefly in the fact that Mr. L. D. M. Randall 
had a soul above fanning or trading and was a votary 
of the Muses. He taught the weekly singing-school 
(then a feature of village life) in half a dozen neigh- 
boring towns, he played the violin and "called off" 
at dances, or evoked rich harmonies from church 
melodeons on Sundays. He taught certain uncouth 
lads, when they were of an age to enter society, the 
intricacies of contra dances, or the steps of the 



34 REBECCA 

schottische and mazurka, and he was a marked 
figure in all social assemblies, though conspicuously 
absent from town-meetings and the purely mascu- 
line gatherings at the store or tavern or bridge. 

His hair was a little longer, his hands a little 
whiter, his shoes a little thinner, his manner a trifle 
more polished, than that of his soberer mates ; in- 
deed the only department of life in which he failed 
to shine was the making of sufficient money to live 
upon. Luckily he had no responsibilities ; his father 
and his twin brother had died when he was yet a 
boy, and his mother, whose only noteworthy achieve- 
ment had been the naming of her twin sons Marquis 
de Lafayette and Lorenzo de Medici Randall, had 
supported herself and educated her child by making 
coats up to the very day of her death. She was wont 
to say plaintively, " I *m afraid the faculties was too 
much divided up between my twins. L D. M. is 
awful talented, but I guess M. D. L would *a* ben 
the practical one if he *d *a' lived." 

" L D. M. was practical enough to get the rich- 
est girl in the village," replied Mrs, Robinson. 

" Yes," sighed his mother, " there it is ap^ain ; if 
the twins could V married Aurelia Sawyer, *t would 
*a been all right L. D. M. was talented *nou|;h to 
get Reely's money, but M. D. L would 'a* ben prac- 
tical *nough to have kep' it." 

Aurelia's share of the modest Sawyer pr(>i)crty 
had been put into one thing after another by the 






REBECCA 2$ 

handsome and luckless Lorenzo de MedicL He had 
a graceftd and poetic way of making an investment 
for each new son and daughter that blessed their 
union. ''A birthday present for our child, Aurelia, 
lie would say, — ''a little nest-egg for the future ; 
bat Aurdia once remarked in a moment of bitter- 
ness that the hen never lived that could sit on 
those ^gs and hatch anything out of them. 

Miranda and Jane had virtually washed their 
hands of Aurelia when she married Lorenzo de 
Medici Randall Having exhausted the resources 
of Riverboro and its immediate vicinity, the unfor- 
tunate couple had moved on and on in a steadily 
decreasing scale of prosperity until they had reached 
Temperance, where they had settled down and in- 
vited fate to do its worst, an invitation which was 
promptly accepted The maiden sisters at home 
wrote to Aurelia two or three times a year, and sent 
modest but serviceable presents to the children at 
Christmas, but refused to assist L. D. M. with the 
regular expenses of his rapidly growing family. 
His last investment, made shortly before the birth 
of Miranda (named in a lively hope of favors which 
never came), was a small farm two miles from 
Temperance. Aurelia managed this herself, and so 
it proved a home at least, and a place for the unsuc- 
cessful Lorenzo to die and to be buried from, a duty 
somewhat too long deferred, many thought, which 
be p e rfor med on the day of Mira's birth. 



96 REBECCA 

It was in this happy-go-lucky household that Re- 
becca had grown up. It was just an ordinary family ; 
two or three of the children were handsome and the 
rest plain, three of them rather clever, two industri- 
ous, and two commonplace and dull Rebecca had 
her father's facility and had been his aptest pupil. 
She ** carried " the alto by ear, danced without being 
taught, played the melodeon without knowing the 
notes. Her love of books she inherited chiefly from 
her mother, who found it hard to sweep or cook 
or sew when there was a novel in the house. For- 
tunately books were scarce, or the children might 
sometimes have gone ragged and hung^. 

But other forces had been at work in Rebecca, 
and the traits of unknown forbears had been wrought 
into her fibre. Lorenzo de Medici was flabby and 
boneless; Rebecca was a thing of fire and si)irit : 
he lacked energy and courage ; Rebecca was plucky 
at two and dauntless at five. Mrs. Randall and 
Hannah had no sense of humor ; Rebecca possessed 
and showed it as soon as she could walk and talk. 

She had not been able, however, to borrow her 
parents* x-irtues and those of other generous ances- 
tors and escape all the weaknesses in the calendar. 
She had not her sister Hannah's patience or her 
brother John's sturdy sta)'ing power. Her will was 
sometimes willfulness, and the ease with which .she 
did most things led her to be impatient of hard tasks 
€r long ones. But whatever else there was or was 



REBECCA 27 

not, there was freedom at Randall's farm. The chiU 
dren grew, worked, fought, ate what and slept where 
they could ; loved one another and their parents 
pretty well, but with no tropical passion ; and edu- 
cated themselves for nine months of the year, each 
one in his own way. 

As a result of this method Hannah, who could 
only have been developed by forces applied from 
without, was painstaking, humdrum, and limited; 
while Rebecca, who apparently needed nothing but 
space to develop in, and a knowledge of terms in 
which to express herself, grew and grew and grew, 
always from within outward. Her forces of one sort 
and another had seemingly been set in motion when 
she was bom ; they needed no daily spur, but moved 
of their own accord — towards what no one knew, 
least of all Rebecca herself. The field for the exhi* 
bition of her creative instinct was painfully small, 
and the only use she had made of it as yet was to 
leave eggs out of the com bread one day and milk 
another, to see how it would turn out; to part 
Fanny's hair sometimes in the middle, sometimes 
on the right, and sometimes on the left side ; and to 
play all sorts of fantastic pranks u-ith the children, 
occasionally bringing them to the table as fictitious 
or historical characters found in her favorite books. 
Rebecca amused her mother and her family gen- 
erally, but she never was counted of serious impor- 
tance, and though considered ** smart " and old for 



^ REBECCA 

her age, she was never thought superior in any way. 
Aurelia*s experience of genius, as exemplified in the 
deceased Lorenzo de Medici, led her into a greater 
admiration of plain, every-day common sense, a qual- 
ity in which Rebecca, it must be confessed, seemed 
sometimes painfully deficient 

Hannah was her mother's favorite, so far as Aure- 
lia could indulge herself in such recreations as par- 
tiality. The parent who is obliged to feed and clothe 
seven children on an income of fifteen dollars a 
month seldom has time to discriminate carefully be- 
tween the various members of her brood, but Hannah 
at fourteen was at once companion and partner in 
all her mother's problems. She it was who kept the 
bouse while Aurelia busied herself in bam and field. 
Rebecca was capable of certain set tasks, such as 
keeping the small children from killing themselves 
and one another, feeding the poultry, picking up 
chips, hulling strawberries, wiping dishes ; but she 
was thought irresponsible, and Aurelia, needing 
somebody to lean on (having never enjoyed that 
luxury with the gifted Lorenzo), leaned on Hannah. 
Hannah showed the result of this attitude somewhat, 
being a trifle careworn in face and sharp in manner ; 
but she was a self-contained, well-behaved, depend- 
able child, and that is the reason her aunts had invited 
her to Riverboro to be a member of their family and 
participate in all the advantages of their loftier 
position in the world. It was several yesirs since 



REBECCA 39 

Miranda and Jane had seen the children, but they 
remembered with pleasure that Hannah had not 
spoken a word during the interview, and it was 
for this reason that they had asked for the pleasure 
of her company. Rebecca, on the other hand, had 
dressed up the dog in John's clothes, and being 
requested to get the three younger children ready 
for dinner, she had held tbem under the pump and 
then proceeded to *' smack " their hair flat to their 
heads by vigorous brushing, bringing them to the 
table in such a moist and hideous state of shininess 
that their mother was ashamed of their appearance. 
Rebecca's own black locks were commonly pushed 
smoothly o£f her forehead, but on this occasion she 
formed what I must perforce call by its only name, 
a spit-curl, directly in the centre of her brow, an 
ornament which she was allowed to wear a very 
short time, only in fact till Hannah was able to call 
her mother's attention to it, when she was sent 
into the next room to remove it and to come back 
looking like a Christian. This command she inter- 
preted somewhat too literally perhaps, because she 
contrived in a space of two minutes an extremely 
pious style of hairdressing, fully as effective if not 
as startling as the first. These antics were solely 
the result of nervous irritation, a mood bom of Miss 
Miranda Sawyer's stiff, grim, and martial attitude. 
The remembrance of Rebecca was so vivid that their 
ttster Aurelia's letter was something of a shock to 



30 



REBECCA 



the quiet, dderiy spinsters of the brick house ; for 
it said that Hannah could not possibly be spared 
for a few years yet, but that Rebecca would come 
as soon as she could be made ready ; that the offer 
was most thankfully appreciated/ and that the regu- 
lar schooling and church privileges, as well as the 
influence of the Sawyer home, would doubtless be 
^tht makif.g of Rebecca." 



m 

A DIFFERENCE IN HEARTS 

1DON' know as I cal'lated to be the makin* of any 
child/' Miranda had said as she folded Aure- 
Iia*s letter and laid it in the light-stand drawer. 
* I s'posed, of course, Aurclia would send us the 
one we asked for, but it 's just like her to palm off 
that wild young one on somebody else." 

•• You remember we said that Rebecca or even 
Jenny might come, in case Hannah could n't," inter- 
posed Jane. 

** I know we did, but we had n't any notion it would 
turn out that way," grumbled Miranda. 

** She was a mite of a thing when we saw her 
three years ago," ventured Jane ; " she *s had time 
to improve." 

" And time to grow worse ! " 

•* Won't it be kind of a privilege to put her on the 
right track ? " asked Jane timidly. 

" I don* know about the prinlege part ; it *11 be 
considerable of a chore, I g^ess. If her mother hain't 
got her on the right track by now, she won't take to 
it herself all of a sudden." 

This depressed and depressing frame of mind had 
lasted until the eventful day dawned on which Re» 
becca was to arrive. 



33 REBECCA 

** If she makes as much work after she comes as 
she has before, we might as well give up hope of 
ever gettin' any rest/' sighed Miranda as she hung 
the dish towels on the barberry bushes at the side 
door. 

'' But we should have had to clean houses Rebecca 
or no Rebecca," urged Jane ; ''and I can't see why 
you 've scrubbed and washed and baked as you have 
for that one chUd, nor why you 've about bought out 
Watson's stock of dry goods." 

"I know Aurelia if you don't," responded Mi- 
randa. " I 've seen her house, and I 've seen that 
batch o' children, wearin' one another's clothes and 
never carin' whether they had 'em on right sid' out 
or not ; I know what they 've had to live and dress 
on, and so do you. That child will like as not come 
here with a passcl o' things borrowed from the 
rest o' the family. She '11 have Hannah's shoes and 
John's undershirts and Mark's socks most likely. 
I suppose she never had a thimble on her finger in 
her life, but she '11 know the feelin' o' one before 
she 's ben here many days. I 've bought a piece of 
unbleached muslin and a piece o' brown gingham 
for her to make up; that'll keep her busy. Of 
course she won't pick up anything after herself ; she 
probably never see a duster, and she '11 be as hard 
to train into our ways as if she was a heathen." 

" She '11 make a dif rence," acknowledged Janc^ 
* but she may turn out more bkldable 'n we think." 



REBECCA 33 

^ She 11 mind when she 's spoken to, biddable or 
not," remarked Miranda with a shake of the last 
towel 

Miranda Sawyer had a heart, of course, but she 
had never used it for any other purpose than the 
pumping and circulating of blood She was just, 
conscientious, economical, industrious ; a regular 
attendant at church and Sunday-school, and a mem- 
ber of the State Missionary and Bible societies, but 
in the presence of all these chilly virtues you longed 
for one warm little fault, or lacking that, one lika- 
ble failing, something to make you sure she was 
thoroughly alive. She had never had any education 
other than that of the neighborhood district school, 
for her desires and ambitions had all pointed to the 
management of the house, the farm, and the dairy. 
Jane, on the other hand, had gone to an academy, 
and also to a boarding-school for young ladies ; so 
had Aurelia ; and after all the years that had elapsed 
there was still a slight difference in language and 
in manner between the elder and the two younger 
sisters. 

Jane, too, had had the inestimable advantage of a 
soi row ; not the natural grief at the loss of her aged 
father and mother, for she had been content to let 
them go ; but something far deeper. She was en- 
gaged to marry young Tom Carter, who had nothing 
to marry on, it is true, but who was sure to have, 
some time or other. Then the war broke out Tom 



34 REBECCA 

enlisted at the first calL Up to that time Jane had 
loved him with a quiet, friendly sort of a£fection, and 
bad given her country a mild emotion of the same 
sort But the strife, the danger, the anxiety of the 
time, set new currents of feeling in motion. Life be- 
came something other than the three meals a day, 
the round of cooking, washing, sewing, and church- 
going. Personal gossip vanished from the village 
conversation. Big things took the place of trifling 
ones, — sacred sorrows of wives and mothers, pangs 
of fathers and husbands, self-denials, sympathies, 
new desire to bear one another's burdens. Men 
and women grew fast in those days of the nation's 
trouble and danger, and Jane awoke from the vague 
dull dream she had hitherto called life to new hope^ 
new fears, new purposes. Then after a year's an» 
iety, a year when one never looked in the news- 
paper without dread and sickness of suspense, came 
the tdegram saying that Tom was wounded ; and 
without so much as asking Miranda's leave, she 
packed her trunk and started for the South. She 
was in time to hold Tom's hand through hours of 
pain ; to show him for once the heart of a prim New 
England girl when it is ablaze with love and grief ; 
to put her arms about him so that he could have a 
home to die in, and that was all ; — all, but it scr\'cd 
It carried her through weary months of nursing 
— nursing of other soldiers for Tom's dear sake ; it 
sent her home a better woman ; and though she had 



REBECCA 35 

^ever left Riverboro in all the years that lay between, 
ind had grown into the counterfeit presentment of 
her sister and of all other thin, spare, New England 
spinsters, it was something of a counterfeit, and un* 
demeath was still the faint echo of that wild heart- 
beat of her girlhood. Having learned the trick of 
beating and loving and suffering, the poor faith- 
ful heart persisted, although it lived on memories 
and carried on its sentimental operations mostly in 
secret 

" You 're soft, Jane," said Miranda once ; " you 
allers was soft, and you allers will be. If 't wa'n*t 
for me keeping you stiffened up, I b'lieve you 'd 
leak out o* the house into the dooryard" 

It was already past the appointed hour for Mr. 
Cobb and his coach to be lumbering down the 



''The stage ought to be here," said Miranda, 
glancing nervously at the tall clock for the twen- 
tieth time. " I guess everything 's done. I Ve 
tacked up two thick towels back of her washstand 
and put a mat under her slop-jar ; but children are 
awful hard on furniture. I expect we sha*n't know 
this house a year from now.** 

Jane*s frame of mind was naturally depressed 
and timorous, having been affected by Miranda*s 
gloomy presages of evil to come. The only differ- 
ence between the sisters in this matter was that 



36 REBECCA 

while Miranda only wondered bow they could en* 
dure Rebecca, Jane bad flashes of inspiration in 
which she wondered bow Rebecca would endure 
them. It was in one of these flashes that she ran 
up the back stairs to put a vase of apple blossoms 
and a red tomato-pincushion on Rebecca's bureau. 

The stage rumbled to the side door of the brick 
house, and Mr. Cobb handed Rebecca out like a 
real lady passenger. She alighted with great cir- 
cumspection, put the bunch of faded flowers in her 
aunt Miranda's hand, and received her salute; it 
could hardly be called a kiss without injuring the 
fair name of that commodity. 

" You need n't 'a' bothered to bring flowers," re- 
marked that gracious and tactful lady ; " the gar- 
den 's always full of 'em here when it comes time," 

Jane then kissed Rebecca, giving a somewhat 
better imitation of the real thing than her sister. 
" Put the trunk in the entry, Jeremiah, and wo *1] 
get it carried upstairs this afternoon," she said 

" I '11 take it up for ye now, if ye say the word, 
girls." 

** No, no ; don't leave the horses ; somebody '11 
be comin' past, and we can call 'em in." 

" Well, good-by, Rebecca ; good-day, Mirandy 'n* 
Jane. You 've got a lively little girl there. I guess 
she '11 be a first-rate company keeper." 

Miss Sawyer shuddered openly at the adjective 
^ lively " as applied to a child ; her belief being that 



REBECCA 37 

tiiough children might be seen, if absolutely neces- 
sary, they certainly should never be heard if she 
could help it ** We 're not much used to noise, Jane 
and me," she remarked acidly. 

Mr. Cobb saw that he had taken the wrong tack, 
but he was too unused to argument to explain him- 
self readily, so he drove away, trying to think by 
what safer word than *' lively " he might have de- 
scribed his interesting little passenger. 

^ I 'U take you up and show you your room, 
Rebecca," Miss Miranda said. *' Shut the mosquito 
nettin' door tight behind you, so 's to keep the flies 
out ; it ain't flytime yet, but I want you to start 
right ; take your passel along with ye and then you 
won't have to come down for it ; always make your 
head save your heels. Rub your feet on that braided 
rug ; hang your hat and cape in the entry there as 
you go past." 

•* It 's my best hat," said Rebecca. 

** Take it upstairs then and put it in the clothes- 
press ; but I should n't 'a' thought you 'd 'a' worn 
your best hat on the stage." 

** It 's my only hat," explained Rebecca. " My 
every-day hat was n't good enough to bring. Fan- 
ny 's going to finish it" 

•* Lay your parasol in the entry closet." 

** Do you mind if I keep it in my room, please ? 
It always seems safer." 

^ There ain't any thieves hereabouts, and if there 



38 REBECCA 

wasy I g^ess they would n't make for your sunshade ; 
but come along. Remember to always go up the 
back way ; we don't use tne front stairs on account 
o' the carpet ; take care o' the turn and don't ketch 
your foot ; look to your right and go ia Wlien 
you've washed your face and hands and brushed 
your hair you can come down, and by and by 
we '11 unpack your trunk and get you settled before 
supper. Ain't you got your dress on hind sid' fore- 
most ? " 

Rebecca drew her chin down and looked at the 
row of smoked pearl buttons running up and down 
the middle of her flat little chest. 

" Hind side foremost ? Oh, I sec ! No, that *s all 
right If you have seven children you can't keep 
buttonin' and unbuttonin' 'em all the time — they 
have to do themselves. We're always buttoned up 
in front at our house, Mira 's only three, but she 's 
buttoned up in front, too." 

Miranda said nothing as she closed the door, but 
her looks were at once equivalent to and more elo- 
quent than words. 

Rebecca stood perfectly still in the centre of the 
floor and looked about her. There u-as a square of 
oilcloth in front of each article of furniture and a 
drawn-in rug beside the single four poster, which 
was covered with a fringed white dimity counter- 
pane. 

Everything was as neat as waz^ but the ceilings 



REBECCA 39 

were much higher than Rebecca was accustomed ta 
It was a north room, and the window, which was 
long and narrow, looked out on the back buildings 
and the bam. 

It was not the room, which was far more comfort* 
able than Rebecca's own at the farm, nor the lack 
of view, nor yet the long journey, for she was not 
conscious of weariness; it was not the fear of a 
strange place, for she loved new places and courted 
new sensations ; it was because of some curious 
blending of uncomprehended emotions that Rebecca 
stood her sunshade in the comer, tore off her best 
bat, flung it on the bureau with the porcupine quills 
on the under side, and stripping down the dimity 
spread, precipitated herself into the middle of the 
bed and pulled the counterpane over her head. 

In a moment the door opened quietly. Knocking 
was a refinement quite unknown in Riverboro, and 
if it had been heard of would never have been 
wasted on a child. 

Miss Miranda entered, and as her eye wandered 
about the vacant room, it fell upon a white and tem- 
pestuous ocean of counterpane, an ocean breaking 
into strange movements of wave and crest and billow. 

'' Rebecca r 

The tone in which the word was voiced gave it all 
the effect of having been shouted from the housetops. 

A dark mffled head and two frightened eyes ap 
peared above the dimity spread. 



40 REBECCA 

''What are you layin' on your good bed in the 
daytime for, messin' up the feathers, and dirtyin' 
the piUers with your dusty boots ? " 

Rebecca rose guiltily. There seemed no excuse 
to make. Her offense was beyond explanation or 
apology. 

" I 'm sorry, aunt Mirandy — something came 
over me ; I don't know what" 

" Well, if it comes over you very soon again we '11 
have to find out what 'tis. Spread your bed up 
smooth this minute, for 'Bijah Flagg 's bringin' your 
trunk upstairs, and I would n't let him see such a 
cluttered-up room for anything ; he 'd tell it all over 
town." 

When Mr. Cobb had put up his horses that night 
he carried a kitchen chair to the side of his wife, 
who was sitting on the back porch. 

" I brought a little Randall girl down on the 
stage from Maplewood to-day, mother. She 's kin to 
the Sawyer girls an' b goin' to live with 'em/* he 
said, as he sat down and began to whittle. " She 's 
that Aurelia's child, the one that ran away with 
Susan Randall's son just before we come here to 
Uve." 

« How old a chad .> " 

" 'Bout ten, or somewhere along there, an' small 
for her age ; but land ! she might be a hundred to 
bear her talk ! She kep' me jumpin' tryin' to an> 



REBECCA 41 

twer her t Of all the queer children I ever come 
across she 's the queerest She ain't no beauty -^ 
her face is all eyes; but if she ever grows up to 
them eyes an' fills out a little she'll make folks 
stare. Land, mother I I wish 't you could V heard 
her talk." 

^ I don't see what she had to talk about, a child 
like that, to a stranger/' replied Mrs. Cobb. 

^ Stranger or no stranger, 't would n't make no 
difference to her. She 'd talk to a pump or a grind- 
stun ; she 'd talk to herself ruther 'n keep stilL" 

••What did she talk about ? " 

•• Blamed if I can repeat any of it She kep' me 
so surprised I did n't have my wits about me. She 
had a little pink sunshade — it kind o' looked like a 
doll's amberill, 'n' she clung to it like a burr to a 
woolen stockin'. I advised her to open it up — the 
sun was so hot ; but she said no, 't would fade, an' 
she tucked it under her dress. 'It's the dearest 
thing in life to me,' says she, ' but it 's a dreadful 
care.' Them 's the very words, an' it 's all the words 
I remember. ' It 's the dearest thing in life to me, but 
it 's an awful care ! ' " — here Mr. Cobb laughed aloud 
as he tipped his chair back against the side of the 
house. '•There was another thing, but I can't get 
it right exactly. She was talkin* 'bout the circus 
parade an' the snake charmer in a gold chariot, an* 
•ays she, •She was so beautiful beyond compares 
Mr. Cobb, that it made you have lumps in your 



•p 



REBECCA 



throat to look at her/ Shell be comin' over to 
•ee you, mother, an' you can size her up for your- 
self. I don' know how she '11 git on with Mirandy 
Sawyer — poor little soul 1 " 

This doubt was more or less openly expressed in 
Riverboro, which, however, had two opinions on the 
subject ; one that it was a most generous thing in 
the Sawyer girls to take one of Aurelia's children 
to educate, the other that the dducation would be 
bought at a price wholly out of proportion to its 
intrinsic value. 

Rebecca's first letters to her mother would seem 
to indicate that she cordially coincided with the 
latter view of the situation. 



IV 

REBECCA'S POINT OF VIEW 

DEAR MOTHER, — I am safely here. My 
dress was not much tumbled and Aunt 
Jane helped me press it out I like Mr. 
Cobb very much. He chews but throws news- 
papers straight up to the doors. I rode outside a 
little while, but got inside before I got to Aunt 
Miranda's house. I did not want to, but thought 
you would like it better. Miranda is such a long 
word that I think I will say Aunt M. and Aunt J. in 
my Sunday letters. Aunt J. has given me a dic- 
tionary to look up all the hard words in. It takes 
a good deal of time and I am glad people can talk 
without stoping to spell. It is much eesier to talk 
than write and much more fun. The brick house 
looks just the same as you have told us. The parler 
is splendid and gives you creeps and chills when you 
look in the door. The f umature is cllergant too, and 
all the rooms but there are no good sitting-down 
places exsept in the kitchen. The same cat is here 
but they do not save kittens when she has them, 
and the cat is too old to play with. Hannah told 
me once you ran away with father and I can see it 
would be nice. If Aunt M. would run away I think 
I should like to live with Aunt J. She does not hate 



44 REBECCA 

me as bad as Aunt M. does. Tell Mark he can have 
my paint box, but I should like him to keep the red 
caJce in case I come home again. I hope Hannah 
and John do not get tired doing my chores. 

Your af ectionate friend 

Rebecca. 

P. S. Please give the piece of poetry to John because 
he likes my poetry even when it is not very good 
This piece is not very good but it b true but I hope 
you won't mind what is in it as you ran away. 

This house b dark and dull snd dreer 
No Ught doth shine frooi far or near 
Itt like the tomb. 

And those of ns who lire herein 
Are most as dead as serrafim 
Thoogh not as good. 

My gardian angel b asleep 
At leest be doth no vigil keep 
Ah t woe b me f 

Then give me back my lonely farm 
Where none alive did wbh me harm 
Dear home of youth 1 

P. S. again. I made the poetry like a piece in a 
book but could not get it right at first. You see 
* tomb " and •• good " do not sound well together but 
I wanted to say *' tomb " dreadfully and as serrafim 
§re always ''good** I coukln't take that out I 



REBECCA 45 

bave made it over now. It does not say my thoughts 
as well but think it is more right. Give the best one 
to John as he keeps them in a box with his birds' 
egg^ This is the best one. 

SUNDAY THOUGHTS 



RXBICCA ROWKNA RaNDALL 

This hooM is dark and dull and drear 
No light doth shine from far or near 
Nor erer could. 

And those of us who live herein 
Are most as dead as seraphim 
Though not as good. 

If y guardian angel b asleep 
At least he doth no vigil keep 
But far doth roam. 

Then gire me back mj lonely fann 
Where none alive did wish me harm, 
Dear childhood home I 



Dear Mother, — I am thrilling with unhappy* 
ness this morning. I got that out of Cora The 
Doctor's Wife whose husband's mother was very 
cross and unfealing to her like Aunt M. to me. I 
wish Hannah had come instead of me for it was 
Hannah that was wanted and she is better than 
I am and does not answer back so quick. Are 
there any peaces of my buff calica Aunt J. wants 



46 REBECCA 

enough to make a new waste button behind so I 
wont look so outlandish. The stiles are quite pretty 
in Riverboro and those at Meeting quite eUergant 
more so than in Temperance. 

This town b ttiliih, gij tod fiir. 

And full of wellthy richet rare. 

But I would pillow on my ana 

The thought of my tweet Brookilda Farm. 

School is pretty good. The Teacher can answer 
more questions than the Temperance one but not so 
many as I can ask. I am smarter than all the girls 
but one but not so smart as two boys. Emma Jane 
can add and subtract in her head like a streek of 
lightning and knows the speling book right through 
but has no thoughts of any kind. She is in the 
Third Reader but does not like stories in books. I 
am in the Sixth Reader but just because I cannot 
•ay the seven multiplication Table Miss Dearborn 
threttens to put me in the baby primer class with 
Elijah and Elisha Simpson little twins. 

Sort b my heait and bent my ttnbborn prida^ 
With Ujah and with liaha am I tied. 
My aoul recoylct like Cora Doctor^ Wife, 
Like her I f eer I cannot bare this life. 



I am going to try for the speling prize but fear 
I cannot get it. I would not care but wrong spel- 
ing looks dreadful in poetry. Last Sunday when I 
fimmd seraphim in the dictionaiy I was ashamed I 



REBECCA 47 

had made it serrafiro but seraphim is not a word you 
can guess at like another long one outlandish in this 
letter which spells itself. Miss Dearborn says use 
the words you can spell and if you cant spell sera- 
phim make angel do but angels are not just the same 
as seraphim s. Seraphims are brighter whiter and 
have bigger wings and I think are older and longer 
dead than angels which are just freshly dead and 
after a long time in heaven around the great white 
throne grow to be seraphims. 

I sew on brown gingham dresses every afternoon 
when Emma Jane and the Simpsons are playing 
house or running on the Logs when their mothers 
do not know it. Their mothers are afraid they will 
drown and Aunt- M. is afraid I will wet my clothes 
80 will not let me either. I can play from half past 
four to supper and after supper a little bit and Satur- 
day afternoons. I am glad our cow has a calf and it 
is spotted It is going to be a good year for apples 
and hay so you and John will be glad and we can 
pay a little more morgage. Miss Dearborn asked us 
what is the object of edducation and I said the object 
of mine was to help pay off the morgage. She told 
Aunt M. and I had to sew extra for punishment be- 
cause she says a morgage is disgrace like stealing 
or smallpox and it will be all over town that we have 
one on our famt Emma Jane is not morgaged nor 
Richard Carter nor Dr. Winship but the Simpsoofl 



REBECCA 



48 



Ri96 nny toolf strain ercry 
Tny mofgi^ to ranovOf 
Gain thy mother's heartfelt thanks 
Thy family's grateful lofe. 

Pronounce family quick or it won't sound right 

Your loving little friend 

RebeccAt 



Dear Johk, — You remember when we tide the 
new dog in the bam how he bit the rope and 
howled I am just like him only the brick house is 
the bam and I can not bite Aunt M. because I 
must be grateful and edducation is going to be the 
making of me and help you pay off the morgage 
when we grow up. Your loving 

Becky. 



WISDOM'S WAYS 

THE day of Rebecca's arrival had been 
Friday, and on the Monday following she 
htgan her education at the school which 
was in Riverboro Centre, about a mile distant 
Miss Sawyer borrowed a neighbor's horse and 
wagon and drove her to the schoolhouse, interview* 
ing the teacher. Miss Dearborn, arranging for books, 
and generally starting the child on the path that 
was to lead to boundless knowledge. Miss Dear- 
bom, it may be said in passing, had had no special 
{»«paration in the art of teaching. It came to her 
naturally, so her family said, and perhaps for this 
reason she, like Tom TuUiver's clergyman tutor, 
** set about it with that uniformity of method and 
independence of circumstances which distinguish the 
actions of animals understood to be under the im* 
mediate teaching of Nature." You remember the 
beaver which a naturalist tells us *' busied himself 
as earnestly in constructing a dam in a room up 
three pair of stairs in London as if he had been lay- 
ing his foundation in a lake in Upper Canada. It 
was hb function to build, the absence of water or of 
possible progeny was an accident for which he was 
not accountable/' In the same manner did Misa 



so REBECCA 



Dearborn lay wbat she fondly imagined to be foun- 
dations in the infant mind 

Rebecca walked to school after the first morning. 
She loved this part of the day's programme. When 
the dew was not too heavy and the weather was fair 
there was a short cut through the woods. She turned 
off the main road, crept through uncle Josh Wood- 
man's bars, waved away Mrs. Carter's cows, trod the 
short grass of the pasture, with its well-worn path 
running through gardens of buttercups and white* 
weed, and groves of ivory leaves and sweet fern. 
She descended a little hill, jumped from stone to 
stone across a woodland brook, startling the drowsy 
frogs, who were always winking and blinking in the 
morning sun. Then came the ** woodsy bit," with 
her feet pressing the slippery carpet of brown pine 
needles ; the " woodsy bit " so full of dewy morning 
surprises, — fungous growths of brilliant orange and 
crimson springing up around the stumps of dead 
trees, beautiful things bom in a single night ; and 
now and then the miracle of a little clump of waxen 
Indian pipes, seen just quickly enough to be saved 
from her careless tread. Then she climbed a stile, 
went through a grassy meadow, slid under another 
pair of bars, and came out into the road again, hav* 
ing gained nearly half a mile. 

How delicious it all was ! Rebecca clasped her 
Quackenbos's Grammar and Greenleaf's Arithmetic 
with a jo}'ful sense of knowing her lessons. Her 



REBECCA SI 

dmner pail swung from her right hand, and she 
had a blissful consciousness of the two soda biscuits 
spread with butter and syrup, the baked cup-custard, 
the doughnut, and the square of hard gingerbread. 
Sometimes she said whatever ** piece " she was going 
to speak on the next Friday afternoon. 

" A soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algien, 
Tliere wu lack of woman's mining, there was dearth of 
woman's tears.** 

How she loved the swing and the sentiment of it I 
How her young voice quivered whenever she came to 
the refrain : — 

** Bat we 11 meet no more at Bingen, dear Bingen on the Rhine.** 

It always sounded beautiful in her ears, as she 
sent her tearful little treble into the clear morning 
air. Another early favorite (for we must remember 
that Rebecca's only knowledge of the great world 
of poetry consisted of the selections in vogue in 
school readers) was : — 

" Woodman, spare that tree I 
Touch not a tingle bough I 
In yooth it sheltered me. 
And 1 11 protect it now.** 

When Emma Jane Perkins walked through the 
^ short cut " with her, the two children used to ren- 
der this with appropriate dramatic action. Emma 
Jane always chose to be the woodman because she 
had nothing to do but raise on high an imaginary 



$2 REBECCA 

axe. On the one occasion when she essayed the 
part of the tree's romantic protector, she represented 
herself as feeling ** so awful foolish " that she 
refused to undertake it again, much to the secret 
delight of Rebecca, who found the woodman's r61e 
much too tame for her vaulting ambition. She 
reveled in the impassioned appeal of the poet, and 
implored the ruthless woodman to be as brutal as 
possible with the axe, so that she might properly 
put greater spirit into her lines. One morning, feel- 
ing more frisky than usual, she fell upon her knees 
and wept in the woodman's petticoat Curiously 
enough, her sense of proportion rejected this as 
soon as it was done. 

^ That was n't right, it was silly, Emma Jane ; but 
I '11 tell you where it might come in — in Give me 
Three Grains of Com. You be the mother, and 
I '11 be the famishing Irish child. For pity's sake 
put the axe down ; you are not the woodman any 
longer ! " 

"What '11 I do with my hands, then?" asked 
Emma Jane. 

** Whatever you like," Rebecca answered wearily ; 
•*you're just a mother — that's all. What does 
fimr mother do with her hands? Now here 
I 

* * GiTe me three icrmint ci corn, mother, 
Only three graine of conii, 
T wiU keep the Uttle life I have 
Tin the coaiDf ci the morn.* ** 



REBECCA 53 

This sort of thing made Emma Jane nervous and 
fidgety, but she was Rebecca's slave and hugged her 
chains, no matter how uncomfortable they made her. 

At the last pair of bars the two girls were some- 
times met by a detachment of the Simpson chil- 
dren, who lived in a black house with a red door and 
a red bam behind, on the Blueberry Plains road. 
Rebecca felt an interest in the Simpsons from the 
first, because there were so many of them and they 
were so patched and darned, just like her own brood 
at the home farm. 

The little schoolhouse with its flagpole on top and 
its two doors in front, one for boys and the other 
for girls, stood on the crest of a hill, with rolling 
fields and meadows on one side, a stretch of pine 
woods on the other, and the river glinting and 
sparkling in the distance. It boasted no attractions 
within. All was as bare and ugly and uncomfortable 
as it well could be, for the villages along the river ex- 
pended so much money in repairing and rebuilding 
bridges that they were obliged to be very economical 
in school privileges. The teacher's desk and chair 
stood on a platform in one comer; there was ar 
uncouth stove, never blackened oftener than onc^ 
a year, a map of the United States, two blackboards, 
a ten-quart tin pail of water and long-handled dipper 
on a comer shelf, and wooden desks and benches 
for the scholars, who only numbered twenty in Re* 
becca's time. The seats were higher in the back of 



54 REBECCA 

the room, and the more advanced and longer-legged 
pupils sat there, the position being greatly to be 
envied, as they were at once nearer to the windows 
and farther from the teacher. 

There were classes of a sort, although nobody, 
broadly speaking, studied the same book with any- 
body else, or had arrived at the same degree of pro- 
ficiency in any one branch of learning. Rebecca in 
particular was so difficult to classify that Miss Dear- 
bom at the end of a fortnight gave up the attempt 
altogether. She read with Dick Carter and Living 
Perkins, who were fitting for the academy ; recited 
arithmetic with lisping little Thuthan Thimpthon ; 
geography with Emma Jane Perkins, and grammar 
after school hours to Miss Dearborn alone. Full to 
the brim as she was of clever thoughts and quaint 
fancies, she made at first but a poor hand at compo- 
sition. The labor of writing and spelling, with the 
added difficulties of punctuation and capitals, inter- 
fered sadly with the free expression of ideas. She 
took history with Alice Robinson's class, which 
was attacking the subject of the Revolution, while 
Rebecca was bidden to begin with the discov. 
ery of America. In a week she had mastered 
the course of events up to the Revolution, and in 
ten days had arrived at Yorktown, where the class 
had apparently established summer quarters. Then 
finding that extra effort would only result in her 
reciting with the old«st Simpson boy, she delib* 



REBECCA 55 

entdy hdd herself back, for wisdom's ways were 
not those of pleasantness nor her paths those of 
peace if one were compelled to tread them in the 
company of Seesaw Simpson. Samuel Simpson was 
generally called Seesaw, because of his difficulty in 
making up his mind Whether it were a question 
of fact, of spelling, or of date, of going swimming 
or fishing, of choosing a book in the Sunday-school 
library or a stick of candy at the village store, he 
had no sooner determined on one plan of action 
than his wish fondly reverted to the opposite one. 
Seesaw was pale, flaxen haired, blue eyed, round 
shouldered, and given to stammering when nervous. 
Perhaps because of his very weakness Rebecca's 
decision of character had a fascination for him, and 
although she snubbed him to the verge of madness, 
he could never keep his eyes away from her. The 
force with which she tied her shoe when the lacing 
came undone, the flirt over shoulder she gave her 
black braid when she was excited or warm, her 
manner of studying, — book on desk, arms folded, 
eyes fixed on the opposite wall, — all had an abiding 
charm for Seesaw Simpson. When, having obtained 
permission, she walked to the water pail in the 
comer and drank from the dipper, unseen forces 
dragged Seesaw from his seat to go and drink after 
her. It was not only that there was something akin 
to association and intimacy in drinking next, but 
there was the fearful joy of meeting her in transit 



56 REBECCA 

and receiving a cold and disdainful look from her 
wonderful eyes. 

On a certain warm day in summer Rebecca's 
thirst exceeded the bounds of propriety. When she 
asked a third time for permission to quench it at the 
common fountain Miss Dearborn nodded ^yes»" but 
lifted her eyebrows unpleasantly as Rebecca neared 
the desk. As she replaced the dipper Seesaw 
promptly raised his hand, and Miss Dearborn indi- 
cated a weary affirmative. 

^What is the matter with you, Rebecca?'' she 
asked 

''I had salt mackerel for breakfast," answered 
Rebecca. 

There seemed nothing humorous about this reply, 
which was merely the statement of a fact, but an 
irrepressible titter ran through the school. Miss 
Dearborn did not enjoy jokes neither made nor 
understood by herself, and her face flushed. 

" I think you had better stand by the pail for five 
minutes, Rebecca ; it may help you to control your 
thirst" 

Rebecca's heart fluttered. She to stand in the 
comer by the water pail and be stared at by all 
the scholars! She unconsciously made a gesture 
of angry dissent and moved a step nearer her scat, 
but uas arrested by Miss Dearborn's command in 
a still firmer voice. 

" Stand by the pail, Rebecca ! Samuel, how many 
times have you asked for water to^y ? " 



REBECCA 57 

•This is the f-f-fonrth.- 

** Don't touch the dipper, please. The school has 
done nothing but drink this afternoon ; it has had 
no time whatever to study. I suppose you had some- 
thing salt for breakfast, Samuel?'' queried Miss 
Dearborn with sarcasm. 

**! had m-m-mackerel, j-just like Reb-b-becca.'* 
(Irrepressible giggles by the school.) 

** I judged sa Stand by the other side of the pail* 
Samuel" 

Rebecca's head was bowed with shame and wrath. 
Life looked too black a thing to be endured. The 
punishment was bad enough, but to be coupled in 
correction with Seesaw Simpson was beyond human 
endurance 

Singing was the last exercise in the afternoon, 
and Minnie Smellie chose Shall we Gather at the 
River ? It was a baleful choice and seemed to hold 
some secret and subtle association with the situation 
and g^eral progress of events ; or at any rate there 
was apparently some obscure reason for the energy 
and vim with which the scholars shouted the choral 
invitation again and again : — 

" Shall we gmther at the riTer, 
The beautiful, the beautiful rirer r * 

Miss Dearborn stole a look at Rebecca's bent head 
and was frightened The child's face was pale save 
for two red spots glowing on her cheeks. Tears 



58 REBECCA 

hung on her laahes; her breath came and went 
quiddy, and the hand that held her pocket hand- 
kerchief trembled like a leal 

** You may go to your seat, Rebecca," said Miss 
Dearborn at the end of the first song. ** Samuel, 
«tay where you are till the close of school And let 
me tell you, scholars, that I asked Rebecca to stand 
by the pafl only to break up this habit of incessant 
drinking, which is nothing but empty-mindedness 
and desire to walk to and fro over the floor. Every 
time Rebecca has asked for a drink to-day the whole 
school has gone to the pail one after another. She 
is reaUy thirsty, and I dare say I ought to have 
punished you for following her example, not her for 
setting it. What shall we sing now, Alice ? " 

" The Old Oaken Bucket, please." 

** Hiink of something dry, Alice, and change the 
subject. Yes, The Star Spangled Banner if you 
like, or anything else." 

Rebecca sank into her seat and pulled the singing- 
book from her desk. Miss Dearborn's public cxpla^ 
nation had shifted some of the weight from her 
heart, and she felt a trifle raised in her self-esteem. 

Under cover of the general relaxation of singing, 
votive offerings of respectful sympathy began to 
make their appearance at her shrine. Living Per- 
kins, who could not sing, dropped a piece of maple 
sugar in her lap as he passed her on his way to the 
blackboard to draw the map of Maine. Alice Rob- 



REBECCA 59 

inson rolled a perfectly new slate pencQ over the 
floor with her foot until it reached Rebecca's place, 
while her seat-mate, Emma Jane, had made up a 
little mound of paper balls and labeled them ** Bui* 
lets for you know who." 

Altogether existence grew brighter, and when 
she was left alone with the teacher for her grammar 
lesson she had nearly recovered her equanimity, 
which was more than Miss Dearborn had. The last 
clattering foot had echoed through the hall, See- 
saw's backward glance of penitence had been met 
and answered defiantly by one of cold disdain. 

''Rebecca, I am afraid I punished you more than I 
meant," said Miss Dearborn, who was only eighteen 
herself, and in her year of teaching country schools 
had never encountered a child like Rebecca. 

'' I had n't missed a question this whole day, nor 
whispered either," quavered the culprit ; "and I don't 
think I ought to be shamed just for drinking." 

** You started all the others, or it seemed as if 
you did Whatever you do they all do, whether you 
laugh, or miss, or write notes, or ask to leave the 
room, or drink ; and it must be stopped'* 

** Sam Simpson is a copy coat ! " stormed Rebecca. 
''I wouldn't have minded standing in the comer 
alone — that b, not so very much ; but I could n't 
bear standing with him." 

** I saw that you could n't, and that 's the reason 
I told you to take your seat, and left him in the 



6o REBECCA 

corner. Remember that you are a stranger in the 
place, and they take more notice of what you do, 
so you must be careful Now let 's have our conju- 
gations. Give me the verb ' to be,' potential moodt 
past perfect tense.*' 

^ I m%ht have been " We might have been 

Tboa odghtst have been Von might have been 

He m%ht have been They might have been." 

*Giv€ me an example, please." 

* I might have been glad 
Thoa mightrt have been gted 
He» the, or it might have been glad.** 

•• • He * or ' she * might have been glad because 
they are masculine and feminine, but could *st* 
have been glad ? " asked Miss Dearborn, who was 
very fond of splitting hairs. 

•• WTiy not .> *' asked Rebecca. 

•• Because • it ' is neuter gender." 

••Couldn't we say, 'The kitten might have 
been glad if it had known it was not going to be 
drowned ' ? " 

•* Ye— es." Miss Dearborn answered hesitatingly, 
ne\Tr very sure of herself under Rebecca's fire; 
•• but thou{;h we often speak of a baby, a chicken, or 
a kitten as 'it/ they are really masculine or feminine 
gender, not neuter." 

Rebecca reflected a long moment and then asked. 
* Is a hollyhock neuter ? '* 



REBECCA 6t 

*0h yes, of coarse it is» Rebecca.** 

** Well, could n*t we say, * The hollyhock might 
bave been glad to see the rain, but there was a weak 
little hollyhock bud growing out of its stalk and it 
was afraid that that might be hurt by the storm ; 
so the big hollyhock was kind of afraid, instead of 
being real glad'?" 

Miss Dearborn looked puzzled as she answered, 
^Of course, Rebecca, hollyhocks could not be 
sorry, or glad, or afraid, really." 

•• We can't tell, I s'pose," replied the child ; •'but 
/ think they are, anyway. Now what shall I say ? '* 

''The subjunctive mood, past perfect tense of 
the verb * to know.' " 

^ If I had known *« If we had known 

If thoa hadst known If you had known 

If he had known If they had known. 

'*0h, it is the saddest tense," sighed Rebecca 
with a little break in her voice ; " nothing but t/s, 
ifs, i/s/ And it makes you feel that if they only 
AaJ known, things might have been better I " 

Miss Dearborn had not thought of it before^ 
but on reflection she believed the subjunctive mood 
was a ** sad " one and " if " rather a sorry "part of 
speech." 

** Give me some more examples of the subjunctive, 
Rebecca, and that will do for this afternoon," she 
sakL 

«If I had not loved mackerel I should not have 



63 



REBECCA 



been thirsty ; ** said Rebecca with an April smiley 
as she closed her gp-ammar. ^ If thou hadst loved 
me truly thou wouldst not have stood me up in the 
comer. If Samuel had not loved wickedness he 
would not have followed me to the water paiL" 

''And if Rebecca had loved the rules of the 
school she would have controlled her thirsty" finished 
Miss Dearborn with a kiss, and the two parted 
friends. 



VI 

SUNSHINE IN A SHADY PLACE 

THE little schoolhouse on the hill had its 
moments of triumph as well as its scenes 
of tribulation, but it was fortunate that 
Rebecca had her books and her new acquaintances 
to keep her interested and occupied, or life would 
have gone heavily with her that first summer in 
Riverboro. She tried to like her aunt Miranda (the 
idea of loving her had been given up at the moment 
of meeting), but failed ignominiously in the attempt 
She was a very faulty and passionately human child, 
with no aspirations towards being an angel of the 
house, but she had a sense of duty and a desire to 
be good, — respectably, decently good. Whenever 
she fell below this self-imposed standard she was 
miserable. She did not like to be under her aunt's 
roof, eating bread, wearing clothes, and studying 
books provided by her, and dislike her so heartily 
all the time. She felt instinctively that this was 
wrong and mean, and whenever the feeling of re- 
morse was strong within her she made a desperate 
effort to please her grim and difficult relative. But 
how could she succeed when she was never herself in 
her aunt Miranda's presence ? The searching look 
of the eyeSi the sharp voice, the hard knotty fingers^ 



REBECCA 

the thin straight lips, the long silences, the ** front- 
piece *' that did n't match her hair, the very obvious 
** parting " that seemed sewed in with linen thread on 
black net, — there was not a single item that appealed 
to Rebecca. There are certain narrow, unimagina- 
tive and autocratic old people who seem to call out 
the most mischievous, and sometimes the worst 
traits in children. Miss Miranda, had she lived in a 
populous neighborhood, would have had her doorbell 
pulled, her gate tied up, or "dirt traps " set in her 
garden paths. The Simpson twins stood in such 
awe of her that they could not be persuaded to come 
to the side door even when Miss Jane held ginger- 
bread cookies in her outstretched hands. 

It is needless to say that Rebecca irritated her 
aunt with every breath she drew. She continually 
forgot and started up the front stairs because it was 
the shortest route to her bedroom; she left the 
dipper on the kitchen shelf instead of hanging it up 
over the pail ; she sat in the chair the cat liked best ; 
she was willing to go on errands, but often forgot 
what she was sent for ; she left the screen doors 
ajar, so that flies came in ; her tongue was ever in 
motion ; she sang or whistled when she was picking 
up chips: she was always messing with flowers, 
putting them in vases, pinning them on her dress, 
and sticking them in her bat ; finally she was an 
everlasting reminder of her foolish, worthless father, 
whose handsome face and engaging manner had 



REBECCA 65 

•o deceived Aurdia, and perhaps, if the facts were 
known, others besides Aurelia. The Randalls were 
aliens. They had not been bom in Riverboro nor 
even in York County. Miranda would have allowed, 
on compulsion, that in the nature of things a large 
number of persons must necessarily be bom outside 
this sacred precinct; but she had her opinion of 
them, and it was not a flattering one. Now if Hannah 
had come — Hannah took after the other side of the 
house ; she was '^ all Sawyer." (Poor Hannah I that 
was true I) Hannah spoke only when spoken to, in- 
stead of first, last, and all the time ; Hannah at four- 
teen was a member of the church ; Hannah liked to 
knit ; Hannah was, probably, or would have been, a 
pattern of all the smaller virtues ; instead of which 
here was this black-haired gypsy, with eyes as big 
as cartwheels, installed as a member of the house- 
hold. 

What sunshine in a shady place was aunt Jane 
to Rebecca I Aunt Jane with her quiet voice, her 
understanding eyes, her ready excuses, in these first 
difficult weeks, when the impulsive little stranger 
was trying to settle down into the ** brick house 
ways." She did learn them, in part, and by degrees, 
and the constant fitting of herself to these new and 
difficult standards of conduct seemed to make her 
older than ever for her years. 

The child took her sewing and sat beside aunt 
Jane in the kitchen while aunt Miranda had the post 



66 REBECCA 

of observation at the sitting-room window. Some> 
times they would work on the side porch where the 
clematis and woodbine shaded them from the hot 
Sim. To Rebecca the lengths of brown gingham 
were interminable. She made hard work of sewing, 
broke the thread, dropped her thimble into the 
syringa bushes, pricked her finger, wiped the per- 
spiration from her forehead, could not match the 
checks, puckered the seams. She polished her nee> 
dies to nothing, pushing them in and out of the emery 
strawberry, but they always squeaked. Still aunt 
Jane's patience held good, and some small measure 
of skill was creeping into Rebecca's fingers, fingers 
that held pencil, paint brush, and pen so cleverly and 
were so clumsy with the dainty little needle. 

Wlien the first brown gingham frock was com- 
pleted, the child seized what she thought an oppor- 
tune moment and asked her aunt Miranda if she 
might have another color for the next one. 

<«I bought a whole piece of the brown," said 
Miranda laconically. " That '11 give you two more 
dresses, with plenty for new sleeves, and to {xitch 
and let down with, an' be more economical." 

** I know. But Mr. Watson says he '11 take back 
port of it, and let us have pink and blue for the 
same price." 

" Did you ask him ? " 

" Yes'm." 

^ It was none o' your 



REBECCA 67 

** I was helpbg Emma Jane choose aprons, and 
did n't think you 'd mind which color I had. Pink 
keeps clean just as nice as brown, and Mr. Watson 
says it 'U boil without fading." 

** Mr. Watson 's a splendid judge of washing, I 
guess. I don't approve of chUdren being rigged 
out in fancy colors, but I'll see what your aunt 
Jane thinks." 

"I think it would be all right to let Rebecca 
have one pink and one blue gingham," said Jane. 
** A child gets tired of sewing on one color. It 's 
only natural she should long for a change ; besides 
she 'd look like a charity child always wearing the 
same brown with a white apron. And it 's dread- 
ful unbecoming to her I " 

** ' Handsome is as handsome does,' say I. R^ 
becca never '11 come to grief along of her beauty, 
that 's certain, and there 's no use in humoring her 
to think about her looks. I believe she 's vain as a 
peacock now, without anything to be vain of." 

" She 's young and attracted to bright things — . 
that 's all. I remember well enough how I felt at her 
age." 

''You was considerable of a fool at her age, 
Jane." 

" Yes, I was, thank the Lord I I only wish I 'd 
known how to take a little of my foolishness along 
with me, as some folks do, to brighten my declining 
years." 



68 REBECCA 

There finaUy was a pink gingfaam, and when it was 
nicely finished, aunt Jane gave Rebecca a delightful 
surprise. She showed her how to make a pretty 
trimming of narrow white linen tape, by folding it 
in pointed shapes and sewing it down very flat with 
neat little stitches. 

** It '11 be good fancy work for you, Rebecca ; for 
your aunt Miranda won't like to see you always 
reading in the long winter evenings. Now if you 
think you can baste two rows of white tape round 
the bottom of your pink skirt and keep it straight 
by the checks, I '11 stitch them on for you and trim 
the waist and sleeves with pointed tape-trimming, 
so the dress 'U be real pretty for second best'* 

Rebecca's joy knew no bounds. *' I '11 baste 
like a house afire I " she exclaimed. '* It 's a thou- 
sand yards round that skirt, as well I know, having 
hemmed it ; but I could sew pretty trimming on if 
it was from here to Milltown. Oh I do you think 
aunt Mirandy '11 e\'er let me go to Milltown with 
Mr. Cobb? He 's asked me again, you know ; but 
one Saturday I had to pick strawberries, and another 
it rained, and I don't think she really approves of 
my going. It *s twentjhnim minutes past four, aunt 
Jane, and Alice Robinson has been sitting under 
the currant bushes for a long time waiting for me. 
Can I go and play ? " 

" Yes, you may go, and you *d better run as far as 
you can out behind the bam, so 't your noise won't 



REBECCA 69 

distract your aunt Mirandy. I see Susan Simpson 
and the twins and Emma Jane Perkins hiding be- 
hind the fence." 

Rebecca leaped ofiF the porch, snatched Alice 
Robinson from imder the currant bushes, and, 
what was much more difficult, succeeded, by means 
of a complicated system of signals, in getting Emma 
Jane away from the Simpson party and giving them 
the slip altogether. They were much too small for 
certain pleasurable activities planned for that after- 
noon ; but they were not to be despised, for they 
had the most fascinating dooryard in the village. In 
it, in bewildering confusion, were old sleighs, pungs, 
horse rakes, hogsheads, settees without backs, bed- 
steads without heads, in all stages of disability, and 
never the same on two consecutive days. Mrs. 
Simpson was seldom at home, and even when she 
was, had little concern as to what happened on the 
premises. A favorite diversion was to make the 
house into a fort, gallantly held by a handful of 
American soldiers against a besieging force of the 
British army. Great care was used in apportioning 
the parts, for there was no disposition to let any* 
body win but the Americans. Seesaw Simpson 
was usually made commander-in-chief of the British 
army, and a limp and uncertain one he was, capa- 
ble, with his contradictory orders and his fondness 
for the extreme rear, of leading any regiment to 
an inglorious death. Sometimes the long-suffering 



TO REBECCA 

house was a log hut, and the brave settlers defeated 
a band of hostile Indians, or occasionally were mav 
sacred by them; but in either case the Simpson 
house looked, to quote a Riverboro expression, "as 
if the devil had been having an auction in it" 

Next to this uncommonly interesting playground, 
as a field of action, came, in the children's opin- 
ion, the " secret spot" There was a velvety stretch 
of ground in the Sawyer pasture which was full of 
fascinating hollows and hillocks, as well as verdant 
levels, on which to build houses. A group of trees 
concealed it somewhat from view and flung a grate- 
ful shade over the dwellings erected there. It had 
been hard though sweet labor to take armfuls of 
"stickins" and "cutrounds" from the mill to this 
secluded spot, and that it had been done mostly 
after supper in the dusk of the evenings gave it 
a still greater flavor. Here in soap boxes hidden 
among the trees were stored all their treasures: 
wee baskets and plates and cups made of burdock 
balls, bits of broken china for parties, dolls, soon 
to be outgrown, but serving well as characters in 
all sorts of romances enacted there, — deaths, fu- 
nerals, weddings, christenings. A tall, square house 
of stickins was to be built round Rebecca this 
afternoon, and she was to be Charlotte Corday 
leaning against the bars of her prison. 

It was a wonderful experience standing inside the 
building with Emma Jane's apron wound about her 



m 



REBECCA 71 

hair ; wonderful to feel that when she leaned her 
head against the bars they seemed to turn to cold 
iron ; that her eyes were no longer Rebecca Ran« 
dall's but mirrored something of Charlotte Corda/s 
hapless woe. 

" Ain't it lovely ? " sighed the humble twain, who 
had done most of the labor, but who generously 
admired the result. I 

"I hate to have to take it down/' said Alice, 
^it 's been such a sight of work." 

'* If you think you could move up some stones 
and just take ofif the top rows, I could step out 
over/* suggested Charlotte Corday. "Then leave 
the stones, and you two can step down into the 
prison to-morrow and be the two little princes in 
the Tower, and I can murder you." 

" What princes ? What tower ? " asked Alice and 
Emma Jane in one breath. " Tell us about them." 

"Not now, it's my supper time." (Rebecca was 
a somewhat firm disciplinarian.) 

" It would be elcrgant being murdered by you,** 
said Emma Jane loyally, " though you arc avrfvl 
real when you murder ; or we could have Elijah and 
Elisha for the princes." 

"They'd yell when they was murdered/' objected 
Alice ; " you know how silly they are at plays, all 
except Clara Belle. Besides if we once show them 
this secret place, they '11 play in it all the time, and 
perhaps they 'd steal things, like their father/' 



73 



REBECCA 



^They needn't steal just because their father 
does," argued Rebecca ; ** and don't you ever talk 
about it before them if you want to be my secret, 
partic'Iar friends. My mother tells me never to say 
hard things about people's own folks to their face. 
She says nobody can bear it, and it 's wicked to shame 
them for what is n't their fault. Remember Minnie 
Smellie I " 

Well, they had no difficulty in recalling that 
dramatic episode, for it had occurred only a few days 
before ; and a version of it that would have melted 
the stoniest heart had been presented to every girt 
in the village by Minnie Smellie herself, who, 
though it was Rebecca and not she who came off 
victorious in the bloody battle of words, nursed her 
resentment and intended to have revenge. 



VII 

RIVERBORO SECRETS 

MR. SIMPSON spent little time with his 
family, owing to certain awkward meth- 
ods of horse-trading, or the " swapping '* 
of farm implements and vehicles of various kinds, -^ 
operations in which his customers were never long 
suited. After every successful trade he generally 
passed a longer or shorter term in jail ; for when a 
poor man without goods or chattels has the invet- 
erate habit of swapping, it follows naturally that he 
must have something to swap ; and having nothing 
of his own, it follows still more naturally that he 
must swap something belonging to his neighbors. 
Mr. Simpson was absent from the home circle 
for the moment because he had exchanged the 
Widow Rideout's sleigh for Joseph Goodwin's 
plough. Goodwin had lately moved to North 
Edgewood and had never before met the urbane 
and persuasive Mr. Simpson. The Goodwin plough 
Mr. Simpson speedily bartered with a man "over 
Wareham way," and got in exchange for it an old 
horse which his owner did not need, as he was leav- 
ing town to visit his daughter for a year. Simp- 
son fattened the aged animal, keeping him for sev- 
eral weeks (at early morning or after nightfall) in 



74 REBECCA 

one neighbor's pasture after another, and then ex* 
changed him with a Milltown man for a top buggy. 
It was at this juncture that the Widow Rideout 
missed her sleigh from the old carriage bouse. 
She had not used it for fifteen years and might 
not sit in it for another fifteen, but it was pro> 
perty, and she did not intend to part with it with- 
out a struggle. Such is the suspicious nature of 
the village mind that the moment she discovered 
her loss her thought at once reverted to Abner 
Simpson. So complicated, however, was the nature 
of this particular business transaction, and so tortu- 
ous the paths of its progress (partly owing to the 
complete disappearance of the owner of the horse, 
who had gone to the West and left no address), 
that it took the sheriff many weeks to prove Mr. 
Simpson's guilt to the town's and to the Widow 
Rideout's satisfaction. Abner himself avowed his 
complete innocence, and told the neighbors how 
a red-haired man with a hare lip and a pepper-and- 
salt suit of clothes had called him up one morning 
about daylight and offered to swap him a good 
sleigh for an old cider press he had layin' out in 
the doorj'ard. The bargain was struck, and he, 
Abner, had paid the hare-lipped stranger four dol- 
lars and seventy-five cents to boot ; whereupon the 
mysterious one set down the sleigh, took the press 
on his cart, and \'anished up the road, never to be 
seen or heard from afterwards. 



REBECCA 75 

** If I could once ketch that consamed old thief/' 
exdauned Abner righteously, " I 'd make him 
dance, — workin' ofif a stolen sleigh on me an* 
takin' away my good money an' cider press, to say 
nothin' o* my character I " 

•*You'll never ketch him, Ab," responded the 
sheriff. *' He 's cut off the same piece o' goods as 
that there cider press and that there character and 
that there four-seventy-five o' youm ; nobody ever 
see any of 'em but you, and you 'II never see 'em 
again! 

Mrs. Simpson, who was decidedly Abner's bet* 
ter half, took in washing and went out to do days' 
cleaning, and the town helped in the feeding and 
clothing of the children. George, a lanky boy of 
fourteen, did chores on neighboring farms, and 
the others, Samuel, Clara Belle, Susan, Elijah, and 
Elisha, went to school, when sufficiently clothed 
and not otherwise more pleasantly engaged. 

There were no secrets in the villages that lay 
along the banks of Pleasant River. There were 
many hard-working people among the inhabitants, 
but life wore away so quietly and slowly that there 
was a good deal of spare time for conversation, — 
under the trees at noon in the hayfield ; hanging 
over the bridge at nightfall ; seated about the 
stove in the village store of an evening. These 
meeting-places furnished ample ground for the dis- 
cussion of current events as viewed by the mas* 



REBECCA 

culine eye, while choir rehearsals, sewing societies, 
reading circles, church picnics, and the like, gave 
opportunity for the expression of feminine opinion. 
All this was taken very much for granted, as a 
rule, but now and then some supersensitive person 
made violent objections to it, as a theory of life. 

Delia Weeks, for example, was a maiden lady 
who did dressmaking in a small way ; she fell ill, 
and although attended by all the physicians in 
the neighborhood, was sinking slowly into a de> 
dine when her cousin Cyrus asked her to come and 
keep house for him in Lewiston. She went, and in 
a year grew into a robust, hearty, cheerful woman. 
Returning to Riverboro on a brief visit, she was 
asked if she meant to end her days away from 
home. 

•• I do most certainly, if I can get any other 
place to stay," she responded candidly. •* I was 
bein* worn to a shadder here, tryin* to keep my 
little secrets to myself, an* never succcedin*. First 
they had it I wanted to marry the minister, and 
when he took a wife in Standish I was known to 
be disappointed Then for five or six years they 
suspicioned I was tryin' for a place to teach school, 
and when I gave up hope, an' took to dressmakin', 
they pitied me and sympathized with me for that 
When father died I was bound I *d never let any- 
body know how I was left, for that spites 'em 
worse than anything else; but there's ways o' 



REBECCA 77 

findin* out, an* they found out, hard as I fought 
*cm ! Then there was my brother James that went 
to Arizona when he was sixteen. I gave good news 
of him for thirty years running but aunt Achsy 
Tarbox had a ferretin' cousin that went out to 
Tombstone for her health, and she wrote to a post- 
master, or to some kind of a town authority, and 
found Jim and wrote back aunt Achsy all about 
him and just how unfortunate he 'd been. They 
knew when I had my teeth out and a new set 
made; they knew when I put on a false front- 
piece; they knew when the fruit peddler asked 
me to be his third wife — I never told 'em, an* you 
can be sure lu never did, but they don't need to be 
told in this village ; they have nothin* to do but 
guess, an' they '11 guess right every time. I was 
all tuckered out tryin' to mislead 'em and deceive 
'em and sidetrack 'cm ; but the minute I got where 
I wa'n't put under a microscope by day an' a tele- 
scope by night and had myself to myself without 
sayin* * By your leave,* I begun to pick up. Cousin 
Cyrus is an old man an' consid*able trouble, but he 
thinks my teeth are handsome an* says I 've got 
a splendid suit of hair. There ain't a person in 
Lewiston that knows about the minister, or fa- 
ther's will, or Jim's doin's, or the fruit peddler ; an' if 
they should find out, they would n't care, an' they 
could n*t remember ; for Lewiston 's a busy places 
thanks bel'* 



78 REBECCA 

Miss Delia Weeks may have exaggerated mat- 
ters somewhat, but it is easy to imagine that Re- 
becca as well as all the other Riverboro children 
had heard the particulars of the Widow Rideout's 
missing sleigh and Abner Simpson's supposed con- 
nection with it 

There is not an excess of delicacy or chivalry in 
the ordinary country school, and several choice co- 
nundrums and bits of verse dealing with the Simp- 
son a£Fair were bandied about among the scholars, 
uttered always, be it said to their credit, in under- 
tones, and when the Simpson children were not in 
the group. 

Rebecca Randall was of precisely the same stock, 
and had had much the same associations as her 
schoolmates, so one can hardly say why she so hated 
mean gossip and so instinctively held herself aloof 
from it. 

Among the Riverboro girls of her own age was a 
certain excellently named Minnie Smcllie, who was 
anything but a general favorite. She was a ferret- 
eyed, blond-haired, spindle-legged little creature 
whose mind was a cross between that of a parrot 
and a sheep. She was suspected of copying an- 
swers from other girls* slates, although she had 
never been caught in the act. Rebecca and Emma 
Jane always knew when she had brought a tart or 
a triangle of layer cake with her school luncheon, 
because on those days she forsook the cheerful 



REBECCA 79 

society of her mates and sought a safe solitude in 
the woods, returning after a time with a jocund 
smile on her smug face. 

After one of these private luncheons Rebecca 
had been tempted beyond her strength, and when 
Minnie took her seat among them asked, ** Is your 
headache better, Minnie? Let me wipe off that 
strawberry jam over your mouth." 

There was no jam there as a matter of fact, 
but the guilty Minnie's handkerchief went to her 
crimson face in a flash. 

Rebecca confessed to Emma Jane that same 
afternoon that she felt ashamed of her prank. " I 
do hate her ways/' she exclaimed, *' but I 'm sorry 
I let her know we 'spected her ; and so to make 
up, I gave her that little piece of broken coral I 
keep in my bead purse ; you know the one ? " 

** It don*t hardly seem as if she deserved that, 
and her so greedy," remarked Emma Jane. 

" I know it, but it makes me feel better," said 
Rebecca largely ; " and then I *ve had it two years, 
and it's broken so it wouldn't ever be any real 
good, beautiful as it is to look at." 

The coral had partly served its purpose as a 
reconciling bond, when one afternoon Rebecca, 
who had stayed after school for her grammar les- 
son as usual, was returning home by way of the 
short cut. Far ahead, beyond the bars, she espied 
the Simpson children just entering the woodsy 



80 REBECCA 

bit. Seesaw was not with theniy so she hastened 
her steps in order to secure company on her home- 
ward walk. They were speedily lost to view, but 
when she had almost overtaken them she heard, 
in the trees beyond, Minnie Smellie's voice lifted 
high in song, and the sound of a child's sobbing. 
Clara Belle, Susan, and the twins were running 
along the path, and Minnie was dancing up and 
down, shrieking : — 

"'What made the ikigh lore Simpeon to?* 
The eiger children cried ; 
' Why Simpsoo loTcd the sleigh, yoa know/ 
The teacher quick replied." 

The last glimpse of the routed Simpson tribe, 
and the last flutter of their tattered garments, dis- 
appeared in the dim distance. The fall of one small 
stone cast by the valiant Elijah, known as" the fight« 
ing twin," did break the stillness of the woods for 
a moment, but it did not come within a hundred 
yards of Minnie, who shouted "Jail Birds" at the 
top of her lungs and then turned, with an agreeable 
feeling of excitement, to meet Rebecca, standing 
perfectly still in the path, with a day of reckoning 
plainly set forth in her blazing eyes. 

Minnie's face was not pleasant to see, for a cow- 
ard detected at the moment of wrongdoing is not 
an object of delight 

" Minnie Smellie, if ever — I — catch — you — 
tinging — that — to the Simpsons again — do you 



REBECCA 8i 

know what I 'II do ? " asked Rebecca in a tone of 
concentrated rage. 

" I don't know and I don't care/' said Minnie 
jauntily, though her looks belied her. 

" I 'II take that piece of coral away from you, and 
I /AinJk I shall slap you besides I " 

" You would n't darst," retorted Minnie. " If 
you do, I'll tell my mother and the teacher, so 
there ! " 

** I don't care if you tell your mother, my mother, 
and all your relations, and the president," said Re- 
becca, gaining courage as the noble words fell from 
her lips. " I don't care if you tell the town, the 
whole of York county, the state of Maine and — 
and the nation ! " she finished grandiloquently. 
** Now you run home and remember what I say. 
If you do it again, and especially if you say ' Jail 
Birds,' if I think it 's right and my duty, I shall 
punish you somehow." 

The next morning at recess Rebecca observed 
Minnie telling the tale with variations to Huldah 
Meserve. " She threatened me,** whispered Minnie, 
" but I never believe a word she says.*' 

The latter remark was spoken with the direct in* 
tention of being overheard, for Minnie had spasms 
of bravery, when well surrounded by the machinery 
of law and order. 

As Rebecca went back to her seat she asked 
Miss Dearborn if she might pass a note to Minnie 



S3 



REBECCA 



Smellie and received pennission. 
note : — 

Of all the girls that are to mean 
There *t none like Minnie SmelUe. 
I '11 take away the gift I gave 
And pound her into Jelly. 



was the 



F.S. N0md0ymMiitfem4f 



R. Randall. 



The effect of this piece of doggerel was entirely 
convincing, and for days afterwards whenever Min- 
nie met the Simpsons even a mile from the brick 
house she shuddered and held her peace. 



VIII 

COLOR OF ROSE 

ON the very next Friday after this ** dread- 
fullest fight that ever was seen/' as Bun- 
yan says in Pilgrim's Progress, there were 
great doings in the little schoolhouse on the hilL 
Friday afternoon was always the time chosen for 
dialogues, songs, and recitations, but it cannot be 
stated that it was a gala day in any true sense of 
the word. Most of the children hated "speak- 
ing pieces ; " hated the burden of learning them^ 
dreaded the danger of breaking down in them. 
Miss Dearborn commonly went home with a head- 
ache, and never left her bed during the rest of the 
afternoon or evening ; and the casual female parent 
who attended the exercises sat on a front bench 
with beads of cold sweat on her forehead, listening 
to the all-too-familiar halts and stammers. Some- 
times a bellowing infant who had clean forgotten his 
verse would cast himself bodily on the maternal 
bosom and be borne out into the open air, where he 
was sometimes kissed and occasionally spanked; 
but in any case the failure added an extra dash 
of gloom and dread to the occasion. The advent 
of Rebecca had somehow infused a new spirit 
into these hitherto terrible afternoons.. She had 



REBECCA 

tangfat Elijah and Elbha Simpson so that they 
recited three verses of something with such comical 
effect that they delighted themselves, the teacher, 
and the school ; while Susan, who lisped, had been 
provided with a humorous poem in which she 
impersonated a lisping child. Emma Jane and 
Rebecca had a dialogue, and the sense of compan- 
ionship buoyed up Emma Jane and gave her self- 
reliance. In fact. Miss Dearborn announced on 
this particular Friday morning that the exercises 
promised to be so interesting that she had invited 
the doctor's wife, the minister's wife, two members 
of the school committee, and a few mothers. Liv- 
ing Perkins was asked to decorate one of the black- 
boards and Rebecca the other. Living, who was 
the star artist of the school, chose the map of North 
America. Rebecca liked better to draw things 
less realistic, and speedily, before the eyes of the 
enchanted multitude, there grew under her skill- 
ful fingers an American flag done in red, white, 
and blue chalk, every star in its right place, every 
stripe fluttering in the breeze. Beside this ap- 
peared a figure of Columbia, copied from the top 
of the cigar box that held the crayons. 

Miss Dearborn was delighted. " I propose we 
give Rebecca a good band-clapping for such a 
beautiful picture — one that the whole school may 
well be proud of I " 

The scholars clapped heartily, and Dick Carter, 
waving his hand, gave a routing cheer. 



REBECCA 85 

• 

Rebecca's heart leaped for joy, and to her con- 
fusion she felt the tears rising in her eyes. She 
could hardly see the way back to her seat, for in 
her ignorant lonely little life she had never been 
singled out for applause, never lauded, nor crowned, 
as in this wonderful, dazzling moment. If " noble- 
ness enkindleth nobleness," so does enthusiasm 
beget enthusiasm, and so do wit and talent enkin- 
dle wit and talent. Alice Robinson proposed that 
the school should sing Three Cheers for the Red, 
White, and Blue I and when they came to the 
chorus, all point to Rebecca's flag. Dick Carter 
suggested that Living Perkins and Rebecca Ran- 
dall should sign their names to their pictures, so 
that the visitors would know who drew them. Hul- 
dah Meserve asked permission to cover the largest 
holes in the plastered walls with boughs and fill the 
water pail with wild flowers. Rebecca's mood was 
above and beyond all practical details. She sat 
silent, her heart so full of grateful joy that she 
could hardly remember the words of her dialogue. 
At recess she bore herself modestly, notwithstand- 
ing her great triumph, while in the general atmos- 
phere of good will the Smellie-Randall hatchet was 
buried and Minnie gathered maple boughs and cov- 
ered the ugly stove with them, under Rebecca's 
direction. 

Miss Dearborn dismissed the morning session 
at quarter to twelve, so that those who lived near 



96 REBECCA 

enough could go home for a change of dresa. 
Emma Jane and Rebecca ran nearly every step of 
the way, from sheer excitement, only stopping to 
breathe at the stiles. 

** Will your aunt Mirandy let you wear your best, 
or only your buff calico ? " asked Emma Jane. 

** I think I '11 ask aunt Jane,'* Rebecca replied. 
*' Oh I if my pink was only finished 1 I left aunt 
Jane making the buttonholes ! " 

** I 'm going to ask my mother to let me wear 
her garnet ring," said Emma Jane. ** It would look 
perfectly elergant flashing in the sun when I point 
to the flag Good*by; don't wait for me going 
back ; I may get a ride." 

Rebecca found the side door locked, but she 
knew that the key was under the step, and so of 
course did everybody else in Riverboro, for they 
all did about the same thing with it She unlocked 
the door and went into the dining-room to find her 
lunch laid on the table and a note from aunt Jane 
saying that they had gone to Moderation with Mrs. 
Robinson in her carryalL Rebecca swallowed a 
piece of bread and butter, and flew up the front 
stairs to her bedroom. On the bed lay the pink 
gingham dress finished by aunt Jane's kind hands. 
Could she, dare she, wear it without asking ? Did 
the occasion justify a new costume, or would her 
aunts think she ought to keep it for the concert ? 

•* I *11 wear it," thought Rebecca. " They 're not 



REBECCA 87 

here to ask, and maybe they would n't mind a bit ; 
it 's only gingham after all, and would n't be so 
grand if it was n't new, and had n't tape trimming 
on it, and was n't pink." 

She unbraided her two pigtails, combed out the 
waves of her hair and tied them back with a rib- 
bon, changed her shoes, and then slipped on the 
pretty frock, managing to fasten all but the three 
middle buttons, which she reserved for Emma Jane. 

Then her eye fell on her cherished pink sunshade, 
the exact match, and the girls had never seen it 
It was n't quite appropriate for school, but she 
need n't take it into the room ; she would wrap it 
in a piece of paper, just show it, and carry it com- 
ing home. She glanced in the parlor looking-glass 
downstairs and was electrified at the vision. It 
seemed almost as if beauty of apparel could go no 
further than that heavenly pink gingham dress 1 
The sparkle of her eyes, glow of her cheeks, sheen 
of her falling hair, passed unnoticed in the all-con- 
quering charm of the rose-colored garment Good- 
ness I it was twenty minutes to one and she would 
be late. She danced out the side door, pulled a pink 
rose from a bush at the gate, and covered the mile 
between the brick house and the seat of learning 
in an incredibly short time, meeting Emma Jane, 
also breathless and resplendent, at the entrance. 

** Rebecca Randall I " exclaimed Emma Jane, 
^ you 're handsome as a picture 1 " 



88 REBECCA 

<'I?*' laughed Rebecca. «' Nonsense! it's only 
the pink gingham." 

•* You 're not good looking every day," insisted 
Emma Jane ; " but you 're different somehow. See 
my garnet ring ; mother scrubbed it in soap and 
water. How on earth did your aunt Mirandy let 
you put on your bran' new dress ? " 

** They were both away and I did n't ask," Re- 
becca responded anxiously. ^ Why ? Do you think 
they 'd have said no ? " 

^Miss Mirandy always says no» doesn't she?" 
asked Emma Jane. 

" Ye— es ; but this afternoon is very special — 
almost like a Sunday-school concert" 

" Yes," assented Emma Jane, ** it is, of course ; 
with your name on the board, and our pointing to 
your flag, and our elergant dialogue, and all that" 

The afternoon was one succession of solid tri- 
umphs for everybody concerned. There were no 
real failures ^t all, no tears, no parents ashamed 
of their offspring. Miss Dearborn heard many 
admiring remarks passed upon her ability, and 
wondered whether they belonged to her or partly, 
at least, to Rebecca. The child had no more to 
do than several others, but she was somehow in 
the foreground. It transpired afterwards at vari« 
ous village entertainments that Rebecca could n*t 
be kept in the background ; it positively refused 
to hold her. Her worst enemy could not have 



REBECCA 89 

called her pushing. She was ready and willing 
and never shy; but she sought for no chances 
of display and was, indeed, remarkably lacking in 
self-consciousness, as well as eager to bring others 
into whatever fun or entertainment there was. 
If wherever the MacGregor sat was the head of 
the table, so in the same way wherever Rebecca 
stood was the centre of the stage. Her clear high 
treble soared above all the rest in the choruses, 
and somehow everybody watched her, took note 
of her gestures, her whole-souled singing, her irre- 
pressible enthusiasm. 

Finally it was all over, and it seemed to Rebecca 
as if she should never be cool and calm again, as 
she loitered on the homeward path. There would 
be no lessons to learn to-night, and the vision of 
helping with the preserves on the morrow had no 
terrors for her — fears could not draw breath in 
the radiance that flooded her soul There were 
thick gathering clouds in the sky, but she took no 
note of them save to be glad that she could raise 
her sunshade. She did not tread the solid ground 
at all, or have any sense of belonging to the com« 
mon human family, until she entered the side yard 
of the brick house and saw her aunt Miranda 
standing in the open doorway. Then with a rush 
she came back to eartL 



IX 

ASHES OF ROSES 

THERE she is, over an hour late ; a little 
more an' she 'd 'a' been caught in a thun- 
der shower, but she 'd never look ahead," 
said Miranda to Jane ; ** and added to all her other 
iniquities, if she ain't rigged out in that new dress, 
steppin' along with her father's dancin'-school steps, 
and swingin' her parasol for all the world as if she 
was play-actin'. Now I 'm the oldest, Jane, an' I 
intend to have my say out ; if you don't like it you 
can go into the kitchen till it 's over. Step right 
in here, Rebecca ; I want to talk to you. What did 
you put on that good new dress for, on a school 
day, without permission ? " 

*' I had intended to ask you at noontime, but you 
were n't at home, so I could n't," began Rebecca. 

" You did no such a thing ; you put it on because 
you was left alone, though you knew well enough 
I would n't have let you." 

" If I *d been certain you would n't have let me 
I'd never have done it," said Rebecca, trying to 
be truthful ; *• but I was n't certain, and it was worth 
risking. I thought perhaps you might, if you knew 
it was almost a real exhibition at school." 

" Exhibition 1 " exclaimed Miranda scornfully; 



REBECCA 91 

^you are exhibition enough by yourself » I should 
say. Was you exhlbitin' your parasol ? " 

''The parasol was silly/' confessed Rebecca, 
hanging her head ; " but it 's the only time in my 
whole life when I had anything to match it, and 
it looked so beautiful with the pink dress I Emma 
Jane and I spoke a dialogue about a city girl and 
a country girl, and it came to me just the minute 
before I started how nice it would come in for the 
city girl ; and it did. I have n't hurt my dress a 
mite, aunt Mirandy." 

''It's the craftiness and underhandedness of 
your actions that 's the worst/' said Miranda 
coldly. "And look at the other things you've 
done I It seems as if Satan possessed you I You 
went up the front stairs to your room, but you 
didn't hide your tracks, for you dropped your 
handkerchief on the way up. You left the screen 
out of your bedroom window for the flies to come 
in all over the house. You never cleared away 
your lunch nor set away a dish, and you left tlu 
side door unlocked Irom half past twelve to three 
o'clock, so 't anybody could 'a' come in and stolen 
what they liked I " 

Rebecca sat down heavily in her chair as she 
heard the list of her transgressions. How could 
she have been so careless ? The tears began to 
flow now as she attempted to explain sins that 
never could be explained or justified. 



92 REBECCA 

^ Oh, I 'm so sorry I " she faltered " I was trim, 
roing the schoolroom, and got belated, and ran all 
the way home. It was hard getting into my dress 
alone, and I hadn't time to eat but a mouthful, 
and just at the last minute, when I honestly — A^m* 
estly — would have thought about clearing away 
and locking up, I looked at the clock and knew I 
could hardly get back to school in time to form in 
the line ; and I thought how dreadful it would be 
to go in late and get my first black mark on a Fri- 
day afternoon, with the minister's wife and the 
doctor's wife and the school committee all there I '* 

" Don't wail and carry on now ; it 's no good 
cryin' over spilt milk," answered Miranda. "An 
ounce of good behavior is worth a pound of repent- 
ance. Instead of tryin' to see how little trouble 
you can make in a house that ain*t your own home, 
it seems as if you tried to see how much you could 
put us out. Take that rose out o' your dress and 
let me see the spot it *s made on your yoke, an' the 
rusty holes where the wet pin went in. No, it ain't ; 
but it 's more by luck than forethought. I ain't got 
any patience with your flowers and frizzled-out hair 
and furbelows an' airs an' graces, for all the world 
like your Miss-Nancy father." 

Rebecca lifted her head in a flash. " Look here, 
aunt Mirandy, I *1I be as good as I know how to be. 
I '11 mind quick when I 'm spoken to and ne\xr 
leave the door unlocked again, but I won't have 



REBECCA 93 

iqy izihtr called names. He was a p-perfectly 
Uovely father, that 's what he was, and it 's ftuan 
to call him Miss Nancy I " 

** Don't you dare answer me back that imperdent 
way, Rebecca, tellin' roe I 'm mean ; your father 
was a vain, foolish, shiftless roan, an' you might as 
well hear it from roe as anybody else; he spent 
your mother's money and left her with seven chil* 
dren to provide for." 

''It's s-something to leave s-seven nice chil- 
dren," sobbed Rebecca. 

** Not when other folks have to help feed, clothe^ 
and educate 'em," responded Miranda. " Now you 
step upstairs, put on your nightgown, go to bed, 
and stay there till to-morrow momin'. You '11 find 
a bowl o' crackers an' milk on your bureau, an' I 
don't want to hear a sound from you till breakfast 
time. Jane^ run an' take the dish towels ofif the 
line and shut the shed doors ; we 're goin' to have 
a turrible shower." 

"We've had it, I should think," said Jane 
quietly, as she went to do her sister's bidding. 
" I don't often speak my mind, Mirandy ; but you 
ought not to have said what you did about Lo- 
renzo. He was what he was, and can't be made 
any different ; but he was Rebecca's father, and 
Aurelia always says he was a good husband." 

Miranda had never heard the proverbial phrase 
•boat the only " good Indian," but her mind worked 



94 



REBECCA 



in the conventional manner wben she said grimly, 
" Yes, I 've noticed that deid husbands are usually 
good ones ; but the truth needs an airin' now and 
then, and that child will never amount to a hill o' 
beans till she gets some of her father trounced out 
of her. I 'm glad I said just what I did." 

" I daresay you arc," remarked Jane, with what 
might be described as one of her annual bursts of 
courage ; *' but all the same, Mirandy, it was n't 
good manners, and it was n't good religion 1 " 

The clap of thunder that shook the house just at 
that moment made no such peal in Miranda Saw 
yer's cars as Jane's remark made when It fell with 
a deafening roar on her conscience; 

Perhaps after all it is just as well to speak only 
once a year and then speak to the purpose 

Rebecca mounted the back stairs wearily, closed 
the door of her bedroom, and took off the beloved 
pink gingham with trembling fingers. Her cotton 
handkerchief was rolled into a hard ball, and in the 
intervals of reaching the more difficult buttons that 
lay between her shoulder blades and her belt, she 
dabbed her wet eyes carefully, so that they should 
not rain salt water on the finery that had been 
worn at such a price. She smoothed it out care- 
fully, pinched up the white rufHe at the neck, and 
laid it away in a dnwer with on extra little sob at 
the roughness of life. The withered pink rote fell 
on the floor. Rebecca totdted at it and thought to 



REBECCA 95 

• 

herself ** Just like my happy day I ** Nothing could 
show more clearly the kind of child she was than 
the fact that she instantly perceived the symbolism 
of the rose, and laid it in the drawer with the dress 
as if she were burying the whole episode with all 
its sad memories. It was a child's poetic instinct 
with a dawning hint of woman's sentiment in it 

She braided her hair in the two accustomed pig* 
tails, took ofi her best shoes (which had happily 
escaped notice), with all the while a fixed resolve 
growing in her mind, that of leaving the brick 
house and going back to the farm. She would not 
be received there with open arms, — there was no 
hope of that, — but she would help her mother 
about the house and send Hannah to Riverboro in 
her place. '* I hope she '11 like it I " she thought in 
a momentary burst of vindictiveness. She sat by 
the window trying to make some sort of plan, 
watching the lightning play over the hilltop and 
the streams of rain chasing each other down the 
lightning rod. And this was the day that had 
dawned so joyfully! It had been a red sunrise, 
and she had leaned on the window sill studying 
her lesson and thinking what a lovely world it 
was. And what a golden morning ! The changing 
of the bare, ugly little schoolroom into a bower of 
beauty ; Miss Dearborn's pleasure at her success 
with the Simpson twins' recitation ; the privilege 
of decorating the blackboard ; the happy thought 



96 REBECCA 

of drawing Columbia from the cigar box ; the in- 
toxicating moment when the school clapped her I 
And what an afternoon I How it went on from 
glory to glory, banning with Emma Jane's telling 
her, Rebecca Randall, that she was as ^ handsome 
as a picture." 

She lived through the exercises again in mem- 
ory, especially her dialogue with Emma Jane and 
her inspiration of using the bough-covered stove 
as a mossy bank where the country girl could sit 
and watch her flocks. This gave Emma Jane a feel- 
ing of such ease that she never recited better; 
and how generous it was of her to lend the garnet 
ring to the city girl, fancying truly how it would 
flash as she furled her parasol and approached the 
awe-stricken shepherdess I She had thought aunt 
Miranda might be pleased that the niece invited 
down from the farm had succeeded so well at 
school ; but no, there was no hope of pleasing her 
in that or in any other way. She would go to 
Maplewood on the stage next day with Mr. Cobb 
and get home somehow from cousin Ann's. On 
second thoughts her aunts might not allow it 
Very well, she would slip away now and see if she 
could stay all night with the Cobbs and be off next 
morning before breakfast 

Rebecca never stopped long to think, more 's the 
pity, so she put on her oldest dress and hat and 
jacket, then wrapped her nightdress, comb, and 



REBECCA 97 

toothbrush in a bundle and dropped it softly out 
of the window. Her room was in the L and her 
window at no very dangerous distance from the 
ground, though had it been, nothing could have 
stopped her at that moment. Somebody who had 
gone on the roof to clean out the gutters had left 
a cleat nailed to the side of the house about half- 
way between the window and the top of the back 
porch. Rebecca heard the sound of the sewing 
machine in the dining-room and the chopping of 
meat in the kitchen ; so knowing the whereabouts 
of both her aunts, she scrambled out of the window, 
caught hold of the lightning rod, slid down to the 
helpful cleat, jumped to the porch, used the wood- 
bine trellis for a ladder, and was flying up the road 
in the storm before she had time to arrange any 
details of her future movements. 

Jeremiah Cobb sat at his lonely supper at the 
table by the kitchen window. "Mother," as he 
with his old-fashioned habits was in the habit of 
calling his wife, was nursing a sick neighbor. Mrs. 
Cobb was mother only to a little headstone in the 
churchyard, where reposed "Sarah Ann, beloved 
daughter of Jeremiah and Sarah Cobb, aged seven- 
teen months ; " but the name of mother was better 
than nothing, and served at any rate as a reminder 
of her woman's crown of blessedness. 

The rain still fell, and the heavens were daxk^ 




90 REBECCA 

though It was scarcely five o'clock. Looking up 
from his "dish of tea," the old man saw at tbc 
open door a very figure of woe, Rebecca's face 
was so swollen with tears and so sharp with mis- 
ery that for a moment he scarcely recognized her. 
Then when he heard her voice asking. " Please 
may I come in, Mr. Cobb?" he cried, "Weil I 
vow! It's my little lady passenger) Come to call 
on old uncle Jerry and pass the time o' day, hcv 
ye ? Why, you 're wet as sops. Draw up to the 
stove. I made a fire, hot as it was, thinkin' I 
wanted somcthin' warm for my supper, bcin' kind 
o' lonesome without mother. She's settin' up with 
Seth Strout to-nighL There, we'll hang your 
Boppy hat on the nail, put your jacket over the 
chair rail, an' then you turn your back to the stove 
an' dry yourself good." 

Uode Jerry had never before sud so many 
words at a time, but he had caught sight of the 
cbDd's red eyes and tear-stained cheeks, and his 
big heart went out to her in her trouble, quite 
regardless of any circumstances that might hare 
caused iL 

Rebecca stood still for a moment imtU tmcle 
Jerry took his seat again at the table, and then, 
unable to contain herself longer, cried, "Oh, Mr. 
Cobb, I 've run away from the brick house, and I 
want to go back to the fann. Will yon keep ne 
tfrolfht ud take me op to Mapleweod In the 



REBECCA 



99 



stage ? I have n't got any money for my fare» but 
I *0 earn it somehow afterwards.** 

'' Well, I guess we won't quarrel 'bout money* you 
and me/' said the old roan ; '^ and we 've never had 
our ride together, anyway, though we allers meant 
to go down river, not up." 

" I shall never see Milltown now I " sobbed Re> 
becca. 

** Come over here side o' me an' tell me all about 
it," coaxed uncle Jerry. "Jest set down on that 
there wooden cricket an' out with the whole story." 

Rebecca leaned her aching head against Mr. 
Cobb's homespun knee and recounted the history 
of her trouble. Tragic as that history seemed to 
her passionate and undisciplined mind^ she told it 
truthfuUy and without exaggeration. 



RAINBOW BRIDGES 

UNCLE JERRY coughed and stirred in his 
chair a good deal during Rebecca's recital, 
but he carefully concealed any undue feel- 
ing of sympathy, just muttering, " Poor little soul I 
We 'U see what we can do for her I " 

•• You will take me to Maplewood, won't you, Mr. 
Cobb ? " begged Rebecca piteously. 

''Don't you fret a mite," he answered, with a 
crafty little notion at the back of his mind ; " I 'U 
see the lady passenger through somehow. Now 
take a bite o' somethin* to eat, child. Spread some 
o' that tomato preserve on your bread ; draw up to 
the table. How 'd you like to set in mother's place 
an' pour me out another cup o' hot tea ? " 

Mr. Jeremiah Cobb's mental machinery was 
simple, and did not move very smoothly save when 
propelled by his affection or sympathy. In the 
present case these were both employed to his ad- 
vantage, and mourning his stupidity and praying 
for some flash of inspiration to light his path, he 
blundered along, trusting to Providence. 

Rebecca, comforted by the old man's tone, and 
timidly enjoying the dignity of sitting in Mrs. Cobb's 
seat and lifting the blue china teapot, smiled faintly, 
smoothed her hair, and dried her eyeSb 



REBECCA loi 

** I suppose your mother *\\ be turrible glad to 
see you back again ? " queried Mr. Cobb. 

A tiny fear — just a baby thing — in the bottom 
of Rebecca's heart stirred and grew larger the mo- 
ment it was touched with a question. 

'' She won't like it that I ran away, I s'pose, and 
she '11 be sorry that I could n't please aunt Mirandy ; 
but I 'II make her understand, just as I did you." 

" I s'pose she was thinkin' o' your schoolin', let- 
tin' you come down here ; but land I you can go to 
school in Temperance, I s'pose ? " 

"There 's only two months' school now in Tem- 
perance, and the farm 's too far from all the other 
schools." 

" Oh well ! there *s other things in the world 
beside edjercation," responded uncle Jerry, attack- 
ing a piece of apple pie. 

"Ye— es; though mother thought that was going 
to be the making of me," returned Rebecca sadly, 
giving a dry little sob as she tried to drink her tea. 

" It '11 be nice for you to be all together again 
at the farm — such a house full o' children I " re- 
marked the dear old deceiver, who longed for no* 
thing so much as to cuddle and comfort the poor 
little creature. 

" It 's too full — that 's the trouble. But I 'U 
make Hannah come to Riverboro in my place." 

" S'pose Mirandy 'n' Jane *11 have her ? I should 
be 'most afraid they would n't They '11 be kind o* 



los REBECCA 

mad at your goin* home, you know, and you can't 
hardly blame *em." 

This was quite a new thought, — that the brick 
house might be closed to Hannah, since she, Re- 
becca, had turned her back upon its cold hospitality. 

''How is this school down here in Riverboro 
—pretty good ? " inquired uncle Jerry, whose brain 
was woriung with an altogether unaccustomed ra- 
pidity, — so much so that it almost terrified him. 

** Oh, it *s a splendid school I And Miss Dear- 
bom is a splendid teacher I " 

''You like her, do you ? Well, you *d better believe 
she returns the compliment Mother was down to 
the store this afternoon buyin' liniment for Seth 
Strout, an* she met Miss Dearborn on the bridge. 
They got to talkin' 'bout school, for mother has 
summer-boarded a lot o' the schoolmarms, an' likes 
'enL 'How does the little Temperance girl git 
along ? ' asks mother. ' Oh, she 's the best scholar 
I have I' says Miss Dearborn. ' I could teach school 
from sun-up to sun-down if scholars was all like 
Rebecca Randall/ says she.*' 

" Oh, Mr. Cobb, diJ she say that .> " glowed Re- 
becca, her face sparkling and dimpling in an instant. 
" I Vc tried bard all the time, but I '11 study the 
covers right off of the books now." 

" You mean you would if you 'd ben goin* to 
stay here," interposed uncle Jerry. ** Now ain't it 
too bad you 've jest got to give it all up on account 



REBECCA 103 

o' your aunt Mirandy ? Well, I can't hardly blame 
ye. She 's cranky an' she 's sour ; I should think 
she'd ben nussed on bonny-clabber an' green 
apples. She needs bearin' with ; an' I guess you 
ain't much on patience, be ye ? " 

" Not very much/' replied Rebecca dolefully. 

'' If I 'd had this talk with ye yesterday," pursued 
Mr. Cobb, " I believe I 'd have advised ye differ- 
ent It 's too late now, an' I don't feel to say you 've 
ben all in the wrong ; but if 't was to do over again, 
I 'd say, well, your aunt Mirandy gives you clothes 
and board and schoolin' and is goin' to send you 
to Warcham at a big expense. She 's turrible hard 
to get along with, an' kind o' heaves benefits at 
your head, same 's she would bricks ; but they 're 
benefits jest the same, an' mebbe it 's your job to 
kind o' pay for 'em in good behavior. Jane's a 
leetle bit more easy goin' than Mirandy, ain't she, 
or is she jest as hard to please ? " 

" Oh, aunt Jane and I get along splendidly," ex« 
claimed Rebecca; ^ she's just as good and kind 
as she can be, and I like her better all the time. 
I think she kind of likes me, too ; she smoothed 
my hair once. I 'd let her scold me all day long, 
for she understands ; but she can't stand up for me 
against aunt Mirandy ; she 's about as afraid of 
her as I am." 

" Jane '11 be real sorry to-morrow to find you *ve 
gone away, I guess ; but never mind, it can't be 



I04 REBECCA 

hdpecL If she has a kind of a dull time with Mirandy, 
on account o' her bein' so sharp, why of course 
she 'd set great store by your comp'ny. Mother was 
talkin' with her after prayer meetin' the other night. 
* You would n't know the brick house, Sarah/ says 
Jane. ' I 'm keepin' a sewin' school, an' my scholar 
has made three dresses. What do you think o' 
that/ says she, 'for an old maid's child? I've 
taken a class in Sunday-school,' says Jane, 'an' 
think o' renewin' my youth an' goin' to the picnic 
with Rebecca,' says she ; an' mother declares she 
never see her look so young 'n' happy." 

There was a silence that could be felt in the little 
kitchen ; a silence only broken by the ticking of 
the tall clock and the beating of Rebecca's heart, 
which, it seemed to her, almost drowned the voice 
of the clock. The rain ceased, a sudden rosy light 
filled the room, and through the window a rain- 
bow arch could be seen spanning the heavens like 
a radiant bridge. Bridges took one across difficult 
places, thought Rebecca, and uncle Jerry seemed 
to have built one over her troubles and given her 
strength to walk. 

"The shower's over/' said the old man, filling 
his pipe ; " it 's cleared the air, washed the face o' 
the airth nice an* clean, an' everything to-morrer 
will shine like a new pin — when you an' I are 
drivin' up river." 

Rebecca pushed her cup away, rose from thf 



REBECCA 10$ 

table^ and put on her hat and jacket quietly. ^ I *m 
not going to drive up river, Mr. Cobb/' she said. 
** I 'm going to stay here and — catch bricks ; catch 
'em without throwing 'em back, too. I don't know 
as aunt Mirandy will take me in after I 've run 
away, but I 'm going back now while I have the 
courage. You would n't be so good as to go with 
me, would you, Mr. Cobb ? " 

"You'd better b'lieve your uncle Jerry don't 
propose to leave till he gits this thing fixed up," 
cried the old man delightedly. " Now you 'vc had 
all you can stan' to-night, poor little soul, without 
gettin' a fit o' sickness ; an* Mirandy '11 be sore 
an' cross an' in no condition for argyment ; so my 
plan is jest this : to drive you over to the brick 
house in my top buggy ; to have you set back in 
the comer, an' I git out an' go to the side door ; 
an' when I git your aunt Mirandy 'n' aunt Jane 
out int' the shed to plan for a load o' wood I 'm 
goin' to have hauled there this week, you '11 slip 
out o' the buggy and go upstairs to bed. The front 
door won't be locked, will it f " 

" Not this time of night," Rebecca answered ; 
" not till aunt Mirandy goes to bed ; but oh ! what 
if it should be ? " 

" Well, it won't ; an' if 't is, why wc *11 have to 
face it out ; though in my opinion there 's things 
that won't bear facin' out an' had better be settled 
comfortable an' quiet You see you ain't run away 



io6 REBECCA 

yet; youVe only come over here to consult nie 
'bout runnin' away, an' we've concluded it ain't 
wuth the trouble. The only real sin you 've com- 
mittedy as I figger it out, was in comin' here by the 
winder when you 'd ben sent to bed That ain't so 
very black, an' you can tell your aunt Jane 'bout 
it come Simday, when she 's chock full o' religion, 
an' she can advise you when you 'd better tell your 
aunt Mirandy. I don't believe in deceivin' folks, 
but if you 've hed hard thoughts you ain't obleeged 
to own 'em up ; take 'em to the Lord in prayer, as 
the hymn says, and then don't go on hevin' 'em. 
Now come on ; I 'm all hitched up to go over to 
the post-office ; don't forget your bundle ; ' it 's 
always a journey, mother, when you carry a night- 
gown ; ' them 's the first words your uncle Jerry 
ever heard you say ! He did n't think you 'd be 
bringin' your nightgown over to his house. Step 
in an' curl up in the comer ; we ain't goin* to let 
folks see little runaway gals, 'cause they 're goin' 
back to begin all over ag'in ! " 

When Rebecca crept upstairs, and undressing in 
the dark finally found herself in her bed that night, 
though she was aching and throbbing in every 
nerve, she felt a kind of peace stealing over her. 
She had been saved from foolishness and error; 
kept from troubling her poor mother; prevented 
from angering and mortifying her aunts. 



REBECCA 107 

Her heart was melted now, and she determined 
to win aunt Miranda's approval by some desperate 
means, and to try and forget the one thing that 
rankled worst, the scornful mention of her father, 
of whom she thought with the greatest admiration, 
and whom she had not yet heard criticised ; for 
such sorrows and disappointments as Aurelia Ran* 
dall had suffered had never been communicated to 
her children. 

It would have been some comfort to the bruised, 
unhappy little spirit to know that Miranda Saw- 
yer was passing an uncomfortable night, and that 
she tacitly regretted her harshness, partly because 
Jane had taken such a lofty and virtuous position 
in the matter. She could not endure Jane's disap- 
proval, although she would never have confessed to 
such a weakness. 

As uncle Jerry drove homeward under the stars, 
wen content with his attempts at keeping the peaces 
he thought wistfully of the touch of Rebecca's head 
on his knee, and the rain of her tears on his hand ; 
of the sweet reasonableness of her mind when she 
had the matter put rightly before her ; of her quick 
decision when she had once seen the path of duty ; 
of the touching hunger for love and understand- 
ing that were so characteristic in her. "Lord 
A'mighty I " he ejaculated under his breath, '* Lord 
A'mighty I to hector and abuse a child like that 
one t 'T ain't abuse exactly, I know, or 't would n't 



io8 REBECCA 

be to some o' your elephant-hided young ones ; but 
to that little tender will-o'-the-wisp a hard word 's 
like a lash. Mirandy Sawyer would be a heap better 
woman if she had a little gravestun to remember, 
same *s mother 'n' I have." 

'^I never see a child improve in her work as 
Rebecca has to-day," remarked Miranda Sawyer to 
Jane on Saturday evening. " That settin' down I 
gave her was probably just what she needed, and 
I daresay it '11 last for a month." 

** I 'm glad you 're pleased/' returned Jane. ** A 
cringing worm is what you want, not a bright, smil- 
ing child. Rebecca looks to me as if she'd been 
through the Seven Years' War. When she came 
downstairs this morning it seemed to me she'd 
grown old in the night If you follow my advice, 
which you seldom do, you '11 let me take her and 
Emma Jane down beside the river to-morrow after- 
noon and bring Emma Jane home to a good Sunday 
supper. Then if you '11 let her go to Mill town with 
the Cobbs on Wednesday, that '11 hearten her up 
a little and coax back her appetite. Wednesday 's a 
holiday on account of Miss Dearborn's going home 
to her sister's wedding, and the Cobbs and Per* 
kinses want to go down to the Agricultural 



XI 

•THE STIRRING OF THE POWERS* 

REBECCA'S visit to Milltown was all that her 
glowing fancy had painted it, except that 
^ recent readings about Rome and Venice 
disposed her to believe that those cities might 
have an advantage over Milltown in the matter 
of mere pictorial beauty. So soon does the soul 
outgrow its mansions that after once seeing Mill- 
town her fancy ran out to the future sight of 
Portland ; for that, having islands and a harbor 
and two public monuments, must be far more 
beautiful than Milltown, which would, she felt, take 
its proud place among the cities of the earth, by 
reason of its tremendous business activity rather 
than by any irresistible appeal to the imagination. 

It would be impossible for two children to see 
more, do more, walk more, talk more, eat more, or 
ask more questions than Rebecca and Emma Jane 
did on that eventful Wednesday. 

" She 's the best company I ever see in all my 
life," said Mrs. Cobb to her husband that evening. 
** We ain't had a dull minute this day. She 's well* 
mannered, too ; she did n't ask for anything, and 
was thankful for whatever she got. Did you watch 
her face when wc went into that tent where they 



no REBECCA 

was actin* out Uncle Tom's Cabin ? And did you 
take notice of the way she told us about the book 
when we sat down to have our ice cream ? I tell you 
Harriet Beecher Stowe herself couldn't 'a' done 
it better justice." 

*' I took it all in/' responded Mr. Cobb, who was 
pleased that ** mother " agreed with him about Re- 
becca. ** I ain't sure but she 's goin' to turn out 
somethin' remarkable, — a singer, or a writer, or a 
lady doctor like that Miss Pkrks up to Cornish." 

''Lady doctors are always home'paths, ain't 
they ? " asked Mrs. Cobb, who, it is needless to say, 
was distinctly of the old school in medicine. 

** Land, no, mother ; there ain't no home*path 
'bout Miss Parks — she drives all over the coun- 
try." 

'' I can't see Rebecca as a lady doctor, some- 
how," mused Mrs. Cobb. " Her gift o' gab is what 's 
goin' to be the makin' of her; mebbe she '11 lecture, 
or recite pieces, like that Portland elocutionist that 
come out here to the harvest supper." 

*' I guess she '11 be able to write down her own 
pieces," said Mr. Cobb confidently ; " she could 
make 'em up faster 'n she could read 'em out of a 
book." 

'^ It 's a pity she 's so plain looking," remarked 
Mrs. Cobb, blowing out the candle. 

** Plain lockings mother?" exclaimed her hus- 
band in astonishment *' Look at the eyes of her ; 



REBECCA III 

look at the hair of her, an' the sroCe, an' that 
there dimple! Look at Alice Robinson, that's 
called the prettiest child on the river, an' see how 
Rebecca shines her ri' down out o' sight ! I hope 
Mirandy 'II favor her comin' over to see us real 
often, for she 'II let o£F some of her steam here, an' 
the brick house 'II be consid'able safer for every* 
body concerned. We 've known what it was to hev 
children, even if 't was more 'n thirty years ago, 
an' we can make allowances." 

Notwithstanding the encomiums of Mr. and Mrs. 
Cobb, Rebecca made a poor hand at composition 
writing at this time. Miss Dearborn gave her 
every sort of subject that she had ever been given 
herself : Cloud Pictures ; Abraham Lincoln ; Na- 
ture ; Philanthropy ; Slavery ; Intemperance ; Joy 
and Duty ; Solitude ; but with none of them did 
Rebecca seem to grapple satisfactorily. 

"Write as you talk, Rebecca," insisted poor Miss 
Dearborn, who secretly knew that she could never 
manage a good composition herself. 

*' But gracious me, Miss Dearborn I I don't talk 
about nature and slavery. I can't write unless I 
have something to say, can I i " 

"That is what compx)sitions arc for," returned 
Miss Dearborn doubtfully ; ** to make you have 
things to say. Now in your last one, on solitude, you 
have n't said anything very interesting, and you 've 
oiade it too common and every-day to sound wdL 



i» REBECCA 

There are too many 'yous ' and ^yours ' in it ; you 
ought to say * one ' now and then, to make it seem 
more like good writing. 'One opens a favorite 
book ; ' ' One's thoughts are a great comfort in soli> 
tude^* and so on." 

** I don't know any more about solitude this week 
than I did about joy and duty last week," grumbled 
Rebecca. 

''You tried to be funny about joy and duty/* 
said Miss Dearborn reprovingly ; '' so of course you 
dkl n't succeed." 

** I did n't know you were going to make us read 
the things out loud," said Rebecca with an embar- 
nu»ed smile of recollection. 

" Joy and Duty " had been the inspiring subject 
given to the older children for a theme to be writ- 
ten in five minutes. 

Rebecca had wrestled, struggled, perspired in 
vain. When her turn came to read she was obliged 
to confess she had written nothing. 

** You have at least two lines, Rebecca," insbted 
the teacher, " for I see them on your slate." 

" I 'd rather not read them, please ; they are not 
good," pleaded Rebecca. 

''Read what you have, good or bad, little or 
much ; I am excusing nobody." 

Rebecca rose, overcome with secret laughter, 
dread, and mortification ; then in a low voice she 
read the couplet : — 



REBECCA 113 

When Jo3r and Duty daih 
Let Duty go to tmath. 

Dick Carter's head disappeared under the desk, 
while Living Perkins choked with laughter. 

Miss Dearborn laughed too ; she was little more 
than a girl, and the training of the young idea sel- 
dom appealed to the sense of humor. 

^ You must stay after school and try again, Re- 
becca," she said, but she said it smilingly. " Your 
poetry has n't a very nice idea in it for a good little 
girl who ought to love duty." 

" It was n't my idea," said Rebecca apologetically. 
^ I had only made the first line when I saw you were 
going to ring the bell and say the time was up. I 
had * clash ' written, and I could n't think of any- 
thing then but ' hash ' or ' rash ' or ' smash.' I 'U 
change it to this : — 

When Joy and Doty dish, 
T b Joy must go to tmaah.** 

"That is better," Miss Dearborn answered* 
* though I cannot think ' going to smash ' is a pretty 
expression for poetry." 

Having been instructed in the use of the indefinite 
pronoun " one " as giving a refined and elegant touch 
to literary eflforts, Rebecca painstakingly rewrote 
her composition on solitude, giving it all the benefit 
of Miss Dearborn's suggestion. It then appeared in 
the following form, which hardly satbfied either 
teacher or pupil : — 



114 REBECCA 

SOUTUDE 

It would be false to say that one could ever be 
alone when one has one's lovely thoughts to comfort 
one. One sits by one's self, it is true, but one thinks ; 
one opens one's favorite book and reads one's favor- 
ite story ; one speaks to one's aunt or one's brother, 
fondles one's cat, or looks at one's photograph album. 
There is one's work also : what a joy it is to one, if 
one happens to like work. All one's little household 
tasks keep one from being lonely. Does one ever 
feel bereft when one picks up one's chips to light 
one's fire for one's evening meal ? Or when one 
washes one's milk pail before milking one's cow ? 
One would fancy not 

Iv« Iv« Iv« 

** It is perfectly dreadful," sighed Rebecca when 
she read it aloud after school ** Putting in ' one ' all 
the time doesn't make it sound any more like a 
book, and it looks silly besides." 

''You say such queer things," objected Miss 
Dearborn. "I don't see what makes you do it. 
Why did you put in anything so common as picking 
up chips ? " 

*' Because I was talking about ' household tasks ' 
in the sentence before, and it is one of my house- 
bold tasks. Don't you think calling supper 'one's 
evening meal ' is pretty ? and is n't ' bereft a nice 
word?" 



REBECCA IIS 

«• Yes, that part of it docs very well It is the cat, 
the chips, and the milk pail that I don't like." 

" All right ! " sighed Rebecca. " Out they gof 
Does the cow go too ? " 

** Yes, I don't like a cow in a composition," sakl 
the difficult Miss Dearborn. 

The Milltown trip had not been without its tragic 
consequences of a small sort ; for the next week 
Minnie Smellie's mother told Miranda Sawyer that 
she 'd better look after Rebecca, for she was given 
to " swearing and profane lang^uage ; " that she had 
been heard saying something dreadful that very 
afternoon, saying it before Emma Jane and Living 
Perkins, who only laughed and got down on all 
fours and chased her. 

Rebecca, on being confronted and charged with 
the crime, denied it indignantly, and aunt Jane be- 
lieved her. 

" Search your memory, Rebecca, and try to think 
what Minnie overheard you say," she pleaded. 
** Don't be ugly and obstinate, but think real hard. 
When did they chase you up the road, and what 
were you doing ? " 

A sudden light broke upon Rebecca's darkness. 

" Oh ! I see it now," she exclaimed. " It had 
rained hard all the morning, you know, and the 
road was full of puddles. Emma Jane, Living, and 
I were walking along, and I was ahead I saw the 



ii6 REBECCA 

water streammg over the road towards the ditch, and 
it reminded me of Uncle Tom's Cabin at Milltown, 
when Eliza took her baby and ran across the Missis- 
sippi on the ice blocks, pursued by the bloodhounds. 
We could n't keep from laughing after we came out 
of the tent because they were acting on such a small 
platform that Eliza had to nm round and round, and 
part of the time the one dog they had pursued her, 
and part of the time she had to pursue the dog. I 
knew Living would remember, too, so I took off my 
waterproof and wrapped it round my books for a 
baby; then I shouted, *My God! the river I' just 
like that — the same as Eliza did in the play ; then 
I leaped from puddle to puddle, and Living and 
Emma Jane pursued me like the bloodhounds. It *s 
just like that stupid Minnie Smellie who doesn't 
know a game when she sees one. And Eliza was n*t 
swearing when she said * My God ! the river ! ' It 
was more like praying." 

" Well, you Ve got no call to be prayin*, any more 
than swearin', in the middle of the road," said Mi- 
randa ; " but I *m thankful it *s no worse. You Ve 
bom to trouble as the sparks fly upward, an' I 'm 
afraid you allers will be till you learn to bridle your 
unruly tongue." 

" I wish sometimes that I could bridle Minnie's," 
murmured Rebecca, as she went to set the table for 
supper. 

''I declare she is the beatin'est child!" said 



BEBECCA 117 



hernic mdu ie *- Yck ffis'ti rfimk sbe 's a ketle mite 
C3XXJ, 6v yvoL JscDt: '*' 

*I daxil fhiTk £c's Se tbe rest of us," re- 
yini^B f l Jszfet Atf'.ghtfixIIy and with some anxiety 
in bcr pkargrff face; *txit wbether it's for the 
hertrr or tiie vone I can't hardly tell till she grows 
ttfL She *s got the nakiiig of 'most anything in her, 
Rebecca has; hot I feel sometimes as if we were 
not fitted to cope with her." 

* Stsff an' nonsense I " said Miranda. " Speak 
for yoorsclL I feel fitted to cope with any child 
that ever was bom int' the world ! " 

*" I know yon do, Mirandy ; but that don't mah 
yon so," returned Jane with a smile. 

The habit of speaking her mind freely was rcr- 
tainly growing on Jane to an altogether tcrrifyii»g 



xn 

•SEE THE PALE MARTYR •• 

r^ was about this time that Rebecca, who had been 
reading about the Spartan boy, conceived the 
idea of some mild form of self-punishment to 
be applied on occasions when she was fully con^ 
vinced in her own mind that it would be salutary. 
The immediate cause of the decbion was a some* 
what sadder accident than was common, even in a 
career prolific in such things. 

Clad in her best, Rebecca had gone to take tea 
with the Cobbs ; but while crossing the bridge she 
was suddenly overcome by the beauty of the river 
and leaned over the newly painted rail to feast her 
eyes on the dashing torrent of the fall. Resting htr 
elbows on the topmost board, and inclining her little 
figure forward in delicious ease, she stood there 
dreaming. 

The river above the dam was a glassy lake with 
all the loveliness of blue heaven and green shore re- 
flected in its surface ; the fall was a swirling wonder 
of water, e\'er pouring itself over and over inexhaust- 
ibly in luminous golden gushes that lost themselves 
in snow)' depths of foam. Sparkling in the sunshine, 
gleaming under the summer moon, cold and gray 
beneath a November sky, trickling over the dam 



REBECCA 119 

in some burning July drought, swollen with turbu* 
lent power in some April freshet, how many yoimg 
eyes gazed into the mystery and majesty of the 
falls along that river, and how many young hearts 
dreamed out their futures leaning over the bridge 
rail, seeing " the vision splendid " reflected there and 
often, too, watching it fade into " the light of com- 
mon day." 

Rebecca never went across the bridge without 
bending over the rail to wonder and to ponder, and 
at this special moment she was putting the finishing 
touches on a poem. 

Two mmident by a river strayed 

Down in the state of Maune. 
The one was called Rebecca, 
The other Emma Jane. 
" I would my life were like the ttream," 

Said her named Emma Jane, 
** So quiet and so very smooth. 
So free from erery pain." 

** I 'd rather be a little drop 

In the great rushing fall I 
I would not chooee the glassy lake, 

T would not suit me at all I " 
(It was the darker maiden spoke 

The words I just have stated. 
The maidens twain were simply friends 

And not at all related.) 

But O I alas I we may not have 

The things we hope to gain ; 
The quiet life may come tm me^ 

The rush to Ernou Jim I 



I30 REBECCA 

^ I don't like ' the rush to Emma Jane,' and I 
can't think of anything else. Oh ! what a smell of 
paint ! Oh 1 it is ^n me 1 Oh I it 's all over my best 
dress 1 Oh I what wt7i aunt Miranda say ! " 

With tears of self-reproach streaming from her 
eyes, Rebecca flew up the hill, sure of sympathy, 
and hoping against hope for help of some sort 

Mrs. Cobb took in the situation at a glance, and 
professed herself able to remove almost any stain 
from almost any fabric ; and in this she was cor- 
roborated by uncle Jerry, who vowed that mother 
could git anything out. Sometimes she took the 
cloth right along with the spot, but she had a sure 
hand, mother had ! 

The damaged garment was removed and partially 
immersed in turpentine, while Rebecca graced the 
festal board clad in a blue calico wrapper of Mrs. 
Cobb's. 

" Don't let it take your appetite away," crooned 
Mrs. Cobb. " I *vc got cream biscuit and honey for 
you. If the turpentine don't work, I 'II try French 
chalk, magncshy, and warm suds. If they fail, father 
shall run over to Strout's and borry some of the 
stuff Marthy got in Milltown to take the currant pie 
out of her weildin* dress." 

" I ain't got to undcrstandin* this paintin' accident 
yet," said uncle Jerry jocosely, as he handed Re- 
becca the honey. " Ifcin* as how there *s ' Fresh 
Paint ' signs hung all over the breedge, so 't a blind 



REBECCA i« 

asylum could n^t miss 'em» I can't hardly account 
for your gettin' int' the pesky stuflF." 

'^ I did n*t notice the signs/' Rebecca said dole- 
fully. " I suppose I was looking at the falls." 

"The falls has been there sence the beginnin* 
o* time, an* I cal'late they'll be there till the end 
on 't ; so you need n't 'a' been in sech a brash to git 
a sight of 'em. Children comes tumble high, mother, 
but I s'pose we must have 'em ! " he said, winking 
at Mrs. Cobb. 

When supper was cleared away Rebecca insisted 
on washing and wiping the dishes, while Mrs. Cobb 
worked on the dress with an energy that plainly 
showed the g^vity of the task. Rebecca kept leav- 
ing her post at the sink to bend anxiously over 
the basin and watch her progress, while uncle Jerry 
offered advice from time to time. 

" You must 'a' laid all over the breedge, deary,'* 
said Mrs. Cobb ; " for the paint *s not only on your 
elbows and yoke and waist, but it about covers 
your front breadth." 

As the garment began to look a little better Re- 
becca's spirits took an upward turn, and at length 
she left it to dry in the fresh air, and went into the 
sitting-room. 

" Have you a piece of paper, please ? " asked Re- 
becca. ** 1 11 copy out the poetry I was making 
while I was lying in the paint." 

Mrs. Cobb sat by her mending basket, and uncle 



122 REBECCA 

Jerry took down a gingham bag of strings and occu- 
pied himself in taking the snarls out of them, — a 
favorite evening amusement with him. 

Rebecca soon had the lines copied in her round 
schoolgirl hand, making such improvements as oc- 
curred to her on sober second thought 

THE TWO WISHES 

RuiocA Randall 

Two miVVmt by a river strajed, 

T was In the state ol Maine. 
Rebecca was the darker one, 

The fadrer, Emma Jane. 
The fairer maiden lald,*' I would 

My life were ae the stream ; 
So peaceful, and so smooth and stilU 

So pleasant and serene." 

Td rather be a little drop 

In the great rushing fall ; 
I *d never choose the quiet lake ; 

T would not please me at all" 
(It was the darker maiden spoke 

The words we just have stated ; 
The maidens twain were simply friends* 

Not sisters, or related.) 

But O I alas J we may not have 

The things we hope to gain. 
The quiet life may come to me, 

The rush to Emma Jane 1 

She read it aloud, and the Cobbs thought it not only 
surpassingly bcautif ul» but a marvelous production. 



REBECCA 133 

^ I guess if that writer that lived on Congress 
Street in Portland could 'a' heard your poetry he 'd 
V been astonished**' said Mrs. Cobb. " If you ask 
me, I say this piece is as good as that one o' his, 
' Tell me not in mournful numbers ; ' and consid- 
'able dearer." 

*' I never could fairly make out what ' mournful 
numbers ' was/' remarked Mr. Cobb critically. 

" Then I guess you never studied fractions I " 
flashed Rebecca. " See here, uncle Jerry and aunt 
Sarahi would you write another verse, especially for 
a last one, as they usually do — one with ' thoughts' 
in it — to make a better ending ? " 

**If you can grind 'em out jest by tumin' the 
cranky why I should say the more the merrier ; but 
I don't hardly see how you could have a better 
cndin*," observed Mr. Cobb. 

*' It is horrid ! " grumbled Rebecca. " I ought not 
to have put that ' me ' in. I *m writing the poetry. 
Nobody ought to know it is me standing by the 
river; it ought to be 'Rebecca,' or 'the darker 
maiden ; ' and ' the rush to Emma Jane ' is simply 
dreadful Sometimes I think I never will try poetry, 
it 's so hard to make it come right ; and other times 
it just says itself. I wonder if this would be better ? 

But O t alas I we may not gaio 

The good for which we pray. 
The quiet life may come to one 

Who Uk«t it rather gay.. 



124 REBECCA 

I don't know whether that is worse or not Now for 
a new last verse I " 

In a few minutes the poetess looked up, flushed 
and triumphant " It was as easy as nothing. Just 
hear I " And she read slowly, with her pretty, pa^ 
thetic voice : — 

Tben if our lot be bright or tad. 

Be fall of smiles, or tean. 
The thoogfat that God has planned it so 

Should help as bear the years. 

Mr. and Mrs. Cobb exchanged dumb glances of 
admiration ; indeed uncle Jerry was obliged to turn 
his face to the window and wipe his eyes furtively 
with the string-bag. 

" How in the world did you do it } " Mrs. Cobb 
exclaimed. 

" Oh, it 's easy," answered Rebecca ; " the hymns 
at meeting are all like that You see there's a 
school newspaper printed at Wareham Academy 
once a month. Dick Carter says the editor is always 
a boy, of course ; but he allows girls to try and write 
for it, and then chooses the best Dick thinks I can 
be in it" 

" /ft it ! " exclaimed uncle Jerry. " I should n't 
be a bit surprised if you had to write the whole 
paper ; an' as for any boy editor, you could lick 
him writin', I bate ye, with one hand tied behind 
ye." 

** Can we have a copy of the poetry to keep in 



REBECCA 135 

the famfly Bible?'' inquired Mrs. Cobb respect* 
fully. 

" Oh I would you like it ? " asked Rebecca. " Yea 
indeed ! I '11 do a clean, nice one with violet ink 
and a fine pen. But I must go and look at my poor 
dress." 

The old couple followed Rebecca into the kitchen. 
The frock was quite dry, and in truth it had been 
helped a little by aunt Sarah's ministrations ; but 
the colors had run in the rubbing, the pattern was 
blurred, and there were muddy streaks here and 
there. As a last resort, it was carefully smoothed 
with a warm iron, and Rebecca was urged to attire 
herself, that they might see if the spots showed as 
much when it was on. 

They did, most uncompromisingly, and to the 
dullest eye. Rebecca gave one searching look, and 
then said, as she took her hat from a nail in the 
entry, " I think I * 11 be going. Good-night I If I Ve 
got to have a scolding, I want it quick, and get it 
over." 

^ Poor little onlucky misf ortunate thing I " sighed 
uncle Jerry, as his eyes followed her down the hilL 
** I wish she could pay some attention to the ground 
under her feet ; but I vow, if she was oum I 'd let 
her slop paint all over the house before I could 
scold her. Here 's her poetry she 's left behind. 
Read it out ag'in, mother. Land ! " he continued, 
chuckling, as he lighted his cob pipe ; ^ I can just 



126 REBECCA 

see the last flap o' that boy-editor's shirt tail as he 
legs it for the woods, while Rebecky settles down in 
his revolvin' cheer 1 I 'm puzzled as to what kind of 
a job editin' is, exactly ; but she '11 find out, Rebecky 
will An' shell just edit for all she 's worth I 

'"The thought that God has planned it to 
Should help us bear the years.' 

Land, mother 1 that takes right holt, kind o' like 
the gospel How do you suppose she thought that 
out?- 

** She could n't have thought it out at her age," 
said Mrs. Cobb; ''she must have just guessed it 
was that way. We know some things without bein' 
told, Jeremiah." 

Rebecca took her scolding (which she richly de- 
served) like a soldier. There was considerable of it, 
and Miss Miranda remarked, among other things, 
that so absent-minded a child was sure to grow up 
into a driveling idiot. She was bidden to stay away 
from Alice Robinson's birthday party, and doomed to 
wear her dress, stained and streaked as it was, until 
it was worn out. Aunt Jane six months later miti- 
gated this martyrdom by making her a ruflled dim- 
ity pinafore, artfully shaped to conceal all the spots. 
She was blessedly ready with these mediations be- 
tween the poor little sinner and the full consequences 
of her sin. 

Wlien Rebecca had heard her sentence and gone 



REBECCA 127 

to the north chamber she began to think If there 
was anything she did not wish to grow into, it was 
an idiot of any sort, particularly a driveling one; 
and she resolved to punish herself every time she 
incurred what she considered to be the righteous 
displeasure of her virtuous relative. She didn't 
mind staying away from Alice Robinson's. She 
had told Emma Jane it would be like a picnic in 
a g^veyardy the Robinson house being as near an 
approach to a tomb as a house can manage to be. 
Children were commonly brought in at the back 
door, and requested to stand on newspapers while 
making their call, so that Alice was b^ged by her 
friends to " receive " in the shed or bam whenever 
possible. Mrs. Robinson was not only "turrible 
neat," but "turrible close," so that the refreshments 
were likely to be peppermint lozenges and glasses 
of well water. 

After considering the relative values, as penances, 
of a piece of haircloth worn next the skin, and a 
pebble in the shoe, she dismissed them both. The 
haircloth could not be found, and the pebble would 
attract the notice of the Arg^s-eyed aunt, besides 
being a foolish bar to the activity of a person who 
had to do housework and walk a mile and a half to 
school 

Her first experimental attempt at martyrdom had 
not been a distinguished success. She had stayed 
at home from the Sunday-school concert, a funo- 



128 REBECCA 

tion of which, in ignorance of more alluring ones» 
she was extremely fond. As a result of her deser- 
tion, two infants who relied upon her to prompt 
them (she knew the verses of all the children bet- 
ter than they did themselves) broke down ignomini* 
ously. The class to which she belonged had to read 
a difficult chapter of Scripture in rotation, and the 
various members spent an arduous Sabbath after- 
noon counting out verses according to their seats 
in the pew, and practicing the ones that would in- 
evitably fall to them. They were too ignorant to 
realize, when they were called upon, that Rebecca's 
absence would make everything come wrong, and 
the blow descended with crushing force when the 
Jebusites and Amorites, the Girgashites, Hivites, 
and Perizzites had to be pronounced by the persons 
of all others least capable of grappling with them. 

Self-punishment, then, to be adequate and proper, 
must begin, like charity, at home, and unlike charity 
should end there too. Rebecca looked about the 
room vaguely as she sat by the window. She must 
give up something, and truth to tell she possessed 
little to give, hardly anything but — yes, thtit would 
do, the beloved pink parasol. She could not hide it 
in the attic, for in some moment of weakness she 
would be sure to take it out again. She feared she 
had not the moral energy to break it into bits. Her 
eyes moved from the parasol to the apple-trees in 
the side yard, and then fell to the well curb. That 



REBECCA 139 

would do ; she would fling her dearest possession into 
the depths of the water. Action followed quickly 
upon decision, as usual She slipped down in the 
darkness, stole out the front door, approached the 
place of sacrifice, lifted the cover of the well, gave one 
unresigned shudder, and flung the parasol downward 
with all her force. At the crucial instant of renun- 
ciation she was greatly helped by the reflection that 
she closely resembled the heathen mothers who cast 
their babes to the crocodiles in the Ganges. 

She slept well and arose refreshed, as a con- 
secrated spirit always should and sometimes does. 
But there was great difficulty in drawing water after 
breakfast. Rebecca, chastened and uplifted, had 
gone to school Abijah Flagg was summoned, lifted 
the well cover, explored, found the inciting cause of 
trouble, and with the help of Yankee wit succeeded 
in removing it The fact was that the ivory hook of 
the parasol had caught in the chain gear, and when 
the first attempt at drawing water was made, the 
little offering of a contrite heart was jerked up, bent, 
its strong ribs jammed into the well side, and en- 
tangled with a twig root. It is needless to say that 
no sleight-of-hand performer, however expert, unless 
aided by the powers of darkness, could have accom- 
plished this feat ; but a luckless child in the pursuit 
of virtue had done it with a turn of the wrist. 

We will draw a veil over the scene that occurred 
after Rebecca's return from school You who read 



I30 REBECCA 

may be well advanced in years, you may be gifted in 
rhetoric, ingenious in argument ; but even you might 
quail at the thought of explaining the tortuous men- 
tal processes that led you into throwing your beloved 
pink parasol into Miranda Sawyer's well Perhaps 
you feel equal to discussing the efficacy of spiritual 
self-chastisement with a person who closes her lips 
into a thin line and looks at you out of blank, imcom- 
prehending eyes ! Common sense, right, and logic 
were all arrayed on Miranda's side. When poor Re- 
becca, driven to the wall, had to avow the reasons 
lying behind the sacrifice of the sunshade, her aunt 
said, " Now see here, Rebecca, you 're too big to be 
whipped, and I shall never whip you ; but when you 
think you ain't punished enough, just tell me, and 
I 'II make out to invent a little something more. I 
ain*t so smart as some folks, but I can do that much ; 
and whatever it is, it 11 be something that won^t 
punish the whole family, and make 'em drink ivory 
dust, wood chips, and pink silk rags with their 
water." 



XIII 
SNOW-WHITE; ROSE-RED 

JUST before Thanksgiving the affairs of the 
Simpsons reached what might have been called 
a crisis, even in their family, which had been 
bom and reared in a state of adventurous poverty and 
perilous imcertainty. 

Riverboro was doing its best to return the entire 
tribe of Simpsons to the land of its fathers, so to 
speak, thinking rightly that the town which had 
given them birth, rather than the town of their adop* 
tion, should feed them and keep a roof over their 
heads until the children were of an age for self- 
support. There was little to eat in the household and 
less to wear, though Mrs. Simpson did, as always, 
her poor best Tbc children managed to satisfy their 
appetites by sitting modestly outside their neigh- 
bors' kitchen doors when meals were about to be 
served. They were not exactly popular favorites, but 
they did receive certain undesirable morsels from the 
more charitable housewives. 

Life was rather dull and dreary, however, and in 
the chill and gloom of November weather, with the 
vision of other people's turkeys bursting with fat» 
and other people's golden pumpkins and squashes 
and com bemg gamered into bams, the young 



132 REBECCA 

Simpsons groped about for some inexpensive form 
of excitement, and settled upon the selling of soap 
for a premium. They had sold enough to their 
immediate neighbors during the earlier autumn to 
secure a child's handcart, which, though very weak 
on its pins, could be trundled over the country roads. 
With large business sagacity and an executive czjol- 
city which must have been inherited from their fa- 
ther, they now proposed to extend their operations 
to a larger area and distribute soap to contiguous vil- 
lages, if these villages could be induced to buy. The 
Excelsior Soap Company paid a very small return of 
any kind to its infantile agents, who were scattered 
through the state, but it inflamed their imaginations 
by the issue of circulars with highly colored pictures 
of the premiums to be awarded for the sale of a cer- 
tain number of cakes. It was at this juncture that 
Clara Belle and Susan Simpson consulted Rebecca, 
who threw herself solidly and wholeheartedly into the 
enterprise, promising her help and that of Emma 
Jane Perkins. The premiums within their possible 
grasp were three: a bookcase, a plush reclining chair, 
and a banquet lamp. Of course the Simpsons had 
no books, and casting aside, without thought or pang, 
the plush chair, which might have been of some 
use in a family of seven persons (not counting Mr. 
Simpson, who ordinarily sat elsewhere at the town's 
expense), they warmed themselves rapturously in 
the vision of the banquet lamp, which speedily be- 



REBECCA 133 

came to them more desirable than food, drink, or 
clothing. Neither Emma Jane nor Rebecca per- 
ceived anything incongruous in the idea of the 
Simpsons striving for. a banquet lamp. They looked 
at the picture daily and knew that if they themselves 
were free agents they would toil, suffer, ay sweat, 
for the happy privilege of occupying the same room 
with that lamp through the coming winter evenings. 
It looked to be about eight feet tall in the catalogue, 
and Emma Jane advised Clara Belle to measure the 
height of the Simpson ceilings ; but a note in the 
margin of the circular informed them that it stood 
two and a half feet high when set up in all its dignity 
and splendor on a proper table, three dollars extra. 
It was only of polished brass, continued the circular, 
though it was invariably mistaken for solid gold, and 
the shade that accompanied it (at least it accom- 
panied it if the agent sold a hundred extra cakes) 
was of crinkled cr^pe paper printed in a dozen deli- 
cious hues, from which the joy-dazzled agent might 
take his choice. 

Seesaw Simpson was not in the syndicate. Gara 
Belle was rather a successful agent, but Susan, who 
could only say " thoap," never made large returns, 
and the twins, who were somewhat young to be thor- 
oughly trustworthy, could be given only a half dozen 
cakes at a time, and were obliged to carry with them 
en their business trips a brief document stating the 
price per cake, dozen, and box. Rebecca and Emma 



134 REBECCA 

Jane o£Fered to go two or three mOes in some one 
direction and see what they could do in the way of 
stirring up a popular demand for the Snow-White and 
Rose-Red brands, the former being devoted to laundry 
purposes and the latter being intended for the toilet. 

There was a great amount of hilarity in the pre* 
paration for this event, and a long council in Emma 
Jane's attic They had the soap company's circular 
from which to arrange a proper speech, and they 
had, what was still better, the remembrance of a 
certain patent-medicine vender's discourse at the 
Milltown Fair. His method, when once observed, 
could never be forgotten ; nor his manner, nor his 
vocabulary. Emma Jane practiced it on Rebecca* 
and Rebecca on Emma Jane. 

** Can I sell you a little soap this afternoon ? It 
is called the Snow-White and Rose-Red Soap, six 
cakes in an ornamental box, only twenty cents for 
the white, twenty-five cents for the red. It is made 
from the purest ingredients, and if desired could be 
eaten by an invalid with relish and profit." 

"Oh, Rebecca, don't let 's say that ! ** interposed 
Emma Jane hysterically. " It makes me feel like a 
fool" 

" It takes so little to make you feci like a fool, 
Emma Jane," rebuked Rebecca, " that sometimes I 
think that you must i^ one. I don't get to feeling 
like a fool so awfully easy ; now leave out that eat- 
ing part if you don't like it, and go on." 



REBECCA 135 

^ The Snow-White is probably the most remark- 
able laundry soap ever manufactured Immerse the 
garments in a tub, lightly rubbing the more soiled 
portions with the soap ; leave them submerged in 
water from sunset to sunrise, and then the youngest 
baby can wash them without the slightest efifort." 

^^Babe^ not baby/' corrected Rebecca from the 
circular. \ 

** It 's just the same thing/' argued Emma Jane. 

^ Of course it 's just the same thing; but a baby 
has got to be called babe or infant in a circular, 
the same as it is in poetry I Would you rather say 
infant ? " 

•* No/' grumbled Emma Jane ; " infant is worse 
even than babe. Rebecca, do you think we 'd better 
do as the circular says, and let Elijah or Elisha try 
the soap before we begin selling ? " 

" I can't imagine a babe doing a family wash with 
any soap," answered Rebecca ; " but it must be true 
or they would never dare to print it, so don't let 's 
bother. Oh ! won't it be the greatest fun, Emma 
Jane ? At some of the houses — where they can't 
possibly know me — I shan't be frightened, and I 
shall reel off the whole rigmarole, invalid, babe, and 
alL Perhaps I shall say even the last sentence, if I 
can remember it : * We sound every chord in the 
great mac-ro-cosm of satisfaction. " 

Thfa conversation took place on a Friday after- 
noon at Emma Jane's house, where Rebecca, to her 



136 REBECCA 

unbounded joy, was to stay over Sunday, her aunts 
having gone to Portland to the funeral of an old 
friend. Saturday being a holiday, they were going 
to have the old white horse, drive to North River- 
boro three miles away, eat a twelve o'clock dinner 
with Emma Jane's cousins, and be back at four 
Vclock punctually. 

When the children asked Mrs. Perkins if they 
could call at just a few houses coming and going, 
and sell a little soap for the Simpsons, she at first 
replied decidedly in the negative. She was an in- 
dulgent parent, however, and really had little objec- 
tion to Emma Jane amusing herself in this unusual 
way ; it was only for Rebecca, as the niece of the 
difficult Miranda Sawyer, that she raised scruples ; 
but when fully persuaded that the enterprise was a 
charitable one, she acquiesced. 

The girls called at Mr. Watson's store, and ar- 
ranged for several large boxes of soap to be charged 
to Clara Belle Simpson's account. These were 
lifted into the back of the wagon, and a happier 
couple never drove along the country road than 
Rebecca and her companion. It was a glorious 
Indian summer day, which suggested nothing of 
Thanksgiving, near at hand as it was. It was a 
rustly day. a scarlet and buff, yellow and carmine, 
bronze and crimson day. There were still many 
leaves on the oaks and maples, making a goodly 
show of red and brown and gold. The air was like 



• REBECCA 137 

qpaiUing cider, and every field had its heaps of yel- 
low and russet good things to eat, all ready for the 
bams, the mills, and the markets. The horse forgot 
his twenty years, sni£Fed the sweet bright air, and 
trotted like a colt ; Nokomis Mountain looked blue 
and clear in the distance; Rebecca stood in the 
wagon, and apostrophized the landscape with sud- 
den joy of living : — 

** Great, wide, beaatif ul, wonderf ol World, 
With the wonderfol water roond yoa curled. 
And the wonderful graat upon your breast. 
World, joo are beautifully drest ! " 

Dull Emma Jane had never seemed to Rebecca 
so near, so dear, so tried and true ; and Rebecca, 
to Emma Jane's faithful heart, had never been so 
brilliant, so bewildering, so fascinating, as in this 
visit together, with its intimacy, its freedom, and 
the added delights of an exciting business enter- 
prise. 

A gorgeous leaf blew into the wagon. 

''Does color make you sort of dizzy?" asked 
Rebecca. 

" No," answered Emma Jane after a long pause ; 
" no, it don't ; not a mite." 

" Perhaps dizzy is n't just the right word, but it *s 
nearest I 'd like to eat color, and drink it, and 
sleep in it. If you could be a tree, which one 
would you choose i " 

Emma Jane had enjoyed considerable experience 



,138 



REBECCA 



l-aS this kind, and Rebecca had succeeded in unstoi^ 
ping her ears, ungluing her eyes, and loosening her 
tongue, so that she could " play the game " after 
a fashion. 

"I'd rather be an apple-tree In blossom, — that 
me that blooms pink, by our pig-pen." 

Rebecca laughed. There was always something 
oncxpected in Emma Jane's replies. " I 'd cbooM 
to be that scarlet maple just on the edge of the 
pond there," — and she pointed with the whipi. 
" Then I could see so much more than your pink 
applc-troe by the pig-pen. I could look at all the 
rest of the woods, see my scarlet dress in my beauti* 
fill looking-glass, and watch all the yellow and browa 
trees growmg upside down in the water. When 
I 'm old enough to earn money, I 'm going to have 
a dress like this leaf, all ruby color — thin, yoo 
know, with a sweeping train and ruffly, curly edges ; 
then I think I '11 have a brown sash like the trunk 
of the tree, and where could I be green i Do tbey 
have green petticoats, I wonder.^ I 'd like a green 
petticoat coming out now and then underneath to 
show what my leaves were like before I was a Kar^ 
let maple." 

" I think it would be awful homely," said Emma 
Jane: " I *m going to have a white satin with a pink 
sash, piok stockings, bnuuc ali[^>ers, and a spangled 
<an." 



XIV 

MR. ALADDIN 

A SINGLE hour's experience of the vidssi- 
tudes incident to a business career clouded 
^ the children's spirits just the least bit i 
They did not accompany each other to the doors 
of their chosen victims, feeling sure that together 
they could not approach the subject seriously; 
but they parted at the gate of each house, the 
one holding the horse while the other took the 
soap samples and interviewed any one who seemed 
of a coming-on disposition. Emma Jane had dis- 
posed of three single cakes, Rebecca of three small 
boxes ; for a difference in their ability to persuade 
the public was clearly defined at the start, though 
neither of them ascribed either success or defeat to 
anything but the imperious force of circumstances. 
Housewives looked at Emma Jane and desired no 
soap ; listened to her description of its merits, and 
still desired none. Other stars in their courses 
governed Rebecca s doings. The people whom she 
interviewed either remembered their present need 
of soap, or reminded themselves that they would 
need it in the future ; the notable point in the case 
being that lucky Rebecca accomplished, with almost 
no effort, results that poor little Emma Jane failed 
to attaia by bard and conscientious labor. 



140 REBECCA 

** It *8 your turn, Rebecca, and I 'm glad, too,** 
said Emma Jane, drawing up to a gateway and 
indicating a bouse tbat was set a considerable dis* 
tance from the road "I haven't got over trem- 
bling from the last place yet." (A lady had put her 
head out of an upstairs window and called, ''Go 
sway, little girl ; whatever you have in your box we 
don't want any.") '' I don't know who lives here, 
and the blinds are all shut in front If there's 
nobody at home you must n't count it, but take the 
next house as yours." 

Rebecca walked up the lane and went to the 
skle door. There was a porch there, and seated in 
a rocking-chair, husking com, was a good-looking 
young man, or was he middle aged? Rebecca 
could not make up her mind At all events he had 
an air of the city about him, — well-shaven face, 
well-trimmed mustache, well-fitting clothes. Re* 
becca was a trifle shy at this unexpected encounter, 
but there was nothing to be done but explain her 
presence, so she asked, " Is the lady of the house 
at home ? " 

** I am the lady of the house at present," said 
the stranger, with a whimsical smile. " What can I 
do for you ? " 

•* Have you e\'cr heard of the — would you like, or 
I mean — do you need any soap ? " queried Rebecca. 

''Do I look as if I did.'" he responded une^* 
pectedly. 



REBECCA 141 

Rebecca dimpled. '' I did n't mean that; I have 
some soap to sell ; I mean I would like to intro- 
duce to you a very remarkable soap, the best now 
on the market It is called the " — 

" Oh t I must know that soap/' said the gentle- 
man genially. ''Made out of pure vegetable fats, 
is n't it ? " 

" The very purest," corroborated Rebecca. 

" No acid in it > " 

"Not a trace" 

** And yet a child could do the Monday washing 
with it and use no force." 

" A babe," corrected Rebecca. 

"Oh! a babe, eh? That child grows younger 
every year, instead of older — wise child ! " 

This was great good fortune, to find a customer 
who knew all the virtues of the article in advance. 
Rebecca dimpled more and more, and at her new 
friend's invitation sat down on a stool at his side 
near the edge of the porch. The beauties of the 
ornamental box which held the Rose-Red were dis- 
closed, and the prices of both that and the Snow- 
White were unfolded. Presently she forgot all 
about her silent partner at the gate and was talking 
as if she had known this grand personage all her 
life 

" I 'm keeping house to^lay, but I don't live here," 
explained the delightful gentleman. " I 'm just on 
a visit to my aunt, who has gone to Portland. 



t4» 



REBECCA 



I used to be here as a boy. and I am very fond of 
the spot." 

" I don't think anything takes the place of the 

I farm where one lived when one was a child," ol^ 

KTvcd Rebecca, nearly bursting with pride at having 

at last successfully used the indefinite proooun in 

general conversation. 

The man darted a look at her and put down hit 
ear of com. " So you consider your childhood a 
thing of the past, do you, young lady ? " 

" I can still remccnber it," answered Rebecca 
gravely, "though it seems a long time ago." 

" I can remember mine well enough, and a par- 
ticularly unpleasant one it was," said the stranger. 

"So was mine," sighed Rebecca. "What waa 
your worst trouble ? " 

** Lack of food and clothes principally." 

"Oh!" exclaimed Rebecca sympathetically, — 
" mine was no shoes and too many babies and not 
enough books. But you 're all right and happy 
now, are n't yoa i " she asked doubtfully, for though 
he looked handsome, welUfed, and prosperous, any 
child could see that his eyes were tired and bit 
mouth was sad when he was not speaking. 

" I 'm doing pretty well, thank you," said the 
man, with a delightful smile. " Now tell me, how 
much soap ought I to buy to-day ? " 

" How much has your aunt on hand now ? " sug- 
Kgested the very modest and inexperienced agent; 
"and bow much would ahe need ? " 



REBECCA 143 

^Oh, I don*t know about that; soap keeps, 
doesn't it?'' 

** I 'm not certain/' said Rebecca conscientiously, 
• but I '11 look in the circular — it 's sure to teU ; " 
and she drew the document from her pocket 

** What are you going to do with the magnificent 
profits you get from this business ? " 

*'We are not selling for our own benefit/" said 
Rebecca confidentially. "My friend who is hold- 
ing the horse at the gate is the daughter of a very 
rich blacksmith, and does n't need any money. I 
am poor, but I live with my aunts in a brick house, 
and of course they would n't like me to be a ped- 
dler. We are trying to get a premium for some 
friends of ours." 

Rebecca had never thought of alluding to the cir- 
cimistances with her previous customers, but unex- 
pectedly she found herself describing Mr. Simpson, 
Mrs. Simpson, and the Simpson family ; their pov- 
erty, their joyless life, and their abject need of a 
banquet lamp to brighten their existence. 

" You need n't argue that point," laughed the 
man, as he stood up to get a glimpse of the " rich 
blacksmith's daughter " at the gate. " I can see that 
they ought to have it if they want it, and especially 
if you want them to have it I 've known what it was 
myself to do without a banquet lamp Now give me 
the circular, and let *s do some figuring. How much 
do the Simpsons lack at this moment ? " 



144 REBECCA 

** If they sell two hundred more cakes this month 
and next, they can have the lamp by Christmas,'* 
Rebecca answered, " and they can get a shade by 
summer time ; but I 'm afraid I can't help very much 
after to-day, because my aunt Miranda may not like 
to have me." 

'' I see. Well, that 's all right I '11 take three 
hundred cakes, and that will give them shade and 
all" 

Rebecca had been seated on a stool very near to 
the edge of the porch, and at this remark she made 
a sudden movement, tipped over, and disappeared 
into a clump of lilac bushes. It was a very short dis- 
tance, fortunately, and the amused capitalist picked 
her up, set her on her feet, and brushed her ofL 
** You should never seem surprised when you have 
taken a large order," said he ; ** you ought to have 
replied * Can't you make it three hundred and fifty ? ' 
instead of capsizing in that unbusinesslike way." 

" Oh, I could never say anything like that ! " ex- 
claimed Rebecca, who was blushing crimson at her 
awkward fall. ** But it docs n't seem right for you 
to buy so much. Are you sure you can afford it ? " 

" If I can't, I '11 save on something else," returned 
the jocose philanthropist. 

" What if your aunt should n't like the kind of 
soap ? " queried Rebecca ner\*ously. 

•• My aunt always likes what I like," he returned 

* Mine does n't I " exclaimed Rebecca. 






REBECCA 145 

^Thcn there 's something wrong with your aunt I *• 

** Or with me/' laughed Rebecca. 

" What b your name, young lady ? 

" Rebecca Rowena Randall, sir. 

*'What?" with an amused smile. ''Both? Your 
mother was generous." 

'^She couldn't bear to give up either of the 
names she says." 

** Do you want to hear my name ? " 

*' I think I know already/' answered Rebecca, with 
a bright glance. " I 'm sure you must be Mr. Alad- 
din in the Arabian Nights. Oh, please, can I run 
down and tell Emma Jane .' She must be so tired 
waiting, and she will be so glad ! " 

At the man's nod of assent Rebecca sped down 
the lane, crying irrepressibly as she neared the 
wagon, " Oh, Emma Jane ! Emma Jane ! we are sold 
out ! " 

Mr. Aladdin followed smilingly to corroborate 
this astonishing, unbelievable statement ; lifted all 
their boxes from the back of the wagon, and tak- 
ing the circular, promised to write to the Excelsior 
Company that night concerning the premium. 

" If you could contrive to keep a secret, — you 
two little girls, — it would be rather a nice surprise 
to have the lamp arrive at the Simpsons* on Thanks- 
giving Day, would n't it t " he asked, as he tucked 
the old lap robe cosily over their feet. 

They gladly assented, and broke into a chonis of 



146 REBECCA 

excited thanks, during which tears of joy stood in 
Rebecca's eyes. 

'' Oh, don't mention it I " laughed Mr. Aladdin, 
lifting his hat *' I was a sort of commercial trav- 
eler myself once, — years ago, — and I like to see 
the thing well done. Good-by Miss Rebecca Row- 
ena I Just let me know whenever you have anything 
to sell, for I 'm certain beforehand I shall want it." 

''Good-by, Mr. Aladdin! I surely will!'* cried 
Rebecca, tossing back her dark braids delightedly 
and waving her hand. 

''Oh, Rebecca!" said Emma Jane in an awe- 
struck whbper. " He raised his hat to us, and we 
not thirteen! It'll be five years before we're 
ladies." 

" Never mind," answered Rebecca ; " we are the 
beginnings of ladies, even now." 

"He tucked the lap robe round us, too," con- 
tinued Emma Jane, in an ecstasy of reminiscence. 
" Oh ! is n't he perfectly clergant ? And was n't it 
lovely of him to buy us out ? And just think of 
having both the lamp and the shade for one day's 
work ! Are n't you glad you wore your pink ging- 
ham now, even if mother did make you put on 
flannel underneath } You do look so pretty in pink 
and red, Rebecca, and so homely in drab and 
brown I " 

" I know it," sighed Rebecca. " I wish I was 
like you — pretty in all colors I" And Rebecca 



REBECCA 147 

looked longingly at Emma Jane's fat, rosy chedcs ; 
at her blue eyes, which said nothing ; at her neat 
nose, which had no character ; at her red lips, from 
between which no word worth listening to had ever 
issued. 

^ Never mind I " said Emma Jane comfortingly. 
^ Everybody says you 're awful bright and smart, and 
mother thinks you '11 be better looking all the time 
as you grow older. You would n't believe it, but I 
was a dreadful homely baby, and homely right along 
till just a year or two ago, when my red hair began 
to grow dark. What was the nice man's name ? " 

" I never thought to ask I " ejaculated Rebecca. 
** Aunt Miranda would say that was just like me, 
and it is. But I called him Mr. Aladdin because he 
gave us a lamp. You know the story of Aladdin and 
the wonderful lamp ? " 

*' Oh, Rebecca ! how could you call him a nick* 
name the very first time you ever saw him ? " 

'' Aladdin is n't a nickname exactly ; anyway, he 
laughed and seemed to like it" 

By dint of superhuman efifort, and putting such 
a seal upon their lips as never mortals put before, 
the two girls succeeded in keeping their wonderful 
news to themselves ; although it was obvious to all 
beholders that they were in an extraordinary and 
abnormal state of mind. 

On Thanksgiving the lamp arrived in a large 
packing box, and was taken out and set up by Se^ 



148 



REBECCA 



saw Simpson, who suddenly began to admire and 
respect the business ability of his sisters. Rebecca 
had heard the news of its arrival, but waited until 
nearly dark before asking permission to go to the 
Simpsons', so that she might see the gorgeous 
trophy lighted and sending a blaze of crimaoo 
glory through its red cripe paper shadCi 



XV 

THE BANQUET LAMP 

THERE had been company at the brick 
house to the bountiful Thanksgiving 
dinner which had been provided at one 
o'clock, — the Bumham sisters, who lived between 
North Riverboro and Shaker Village, and who for 
more than a quarter of a century had come to pass 
the holiday with the Sawyers every year. Rebecca 
sat silent with a book after the dinner dishes were 
washed, and when it was nearly five asked if she 
might go to the Simpsons'. 

" What do you want to run after those Simpson 
children for on a Thanksgiving Day ? " queried Miss 
Miranda. " Can't you set still for once and listen 
to the improvin* conversation of your elders ? You 
never can let well enough alone, but want to be for- 
ever on the move." 

''The Simpsons have a new lamp, and Emma 
Jane and I promised to go up and see it lighted, 
and make it a kind of a party." 

"What under the canopy did they want of a 
lamp, and where did they get the money to pay for 
it ? If Abner was at home, I should think he 'd been 
swappin' again," said Miss Miranda. 

** The children got it as a prize for selling soap^'' 



ISO REBECCA 

rq>lied Rebecca ; " they ' ve been working for a year, 
and you know I told you that Emma Jane and I 
helped them the Saturday afternoon you were in 
Portland." 

** I did n't take notice, I s'pose, for it 's the first 
time I ever heard the lamp mentioned. Well, you 
can go for an hour, and no more. Remember it 's 
as dark at six as it b at midnight Would you like 
to take along some Baldwin apples ? What have 
you got in the pocket of that new dress that makes 
it sag down so ? " 

*' It 's my nuts and raisins from dinner/' replied 
Rebecca, who never succeeded in keeping the most 
innocent action a secret from her aunt Miranda ; 
"they *re just what you gave me on my plate." 

" Why did n't you eat them ? " 

" Because I 'd had enough dinner, and I thought 
if I saved these, it would make the Simpsons' 
party better," stammered Rebecca, who hated to 
be scolded and examined before company. 

"They were your own, Rebecca," interposed 
aunt Jane, " and if you chose to save them to give 
away, it is all right. We ought never to let this day 
pass without giving our neighbors something to be 
thankful for, instead of taking all the time to think 
of our own mercies." 

The Bumham sisters nodded approvingly as Re- 
becca went out, and remarked that they had never 
seen a child grow and improve so fast in so short a 
time. 



REBECCA 151 

^ There 's plenty of room left for more improve- 
ment, as you 'd know if she lived in the same house 
with you," answered Miranda. " She *s into every 
namable thing in the neighborhood, an' not only 
into it, but generally at the head an' front of it, 
especially when it 's mischief. Of all the foolishness 
I ever heard of, that lamp beats everything ; it 's 
just like those Simpsons, but I did n't suppose the i 
children had brains enough to sell anything." 

** One of them must have," said Miss Ellen Bum- 
bam, ''for the girl that was selling soap at the 
Ladds' in North Riverboro was described by Adam 
Ladd as the most remarkable and winning child he 
ever saw." 

" It must have been Clara Belle, and I should 
never call her remarkable," answered Miss Miranda. 
** Has Adam been home again ? " 

" Yes, he 's been staying a few days with his aunt. 
There 's no limit to the money he 's making, they 
say; and he always brings presents for all the 
neighbors. This time it was a full set of furs for 
Mrs. Ladd; and to think we can remember the 
time he was a barefoot boy without two shirts to his 
back I It is strange he has n't married, with all his 
money, and him so fond of children that he always 
has a pack of them at his heels." 

" There 's hope for him still, though," said Miss 
Jane smilingly ; " for I don't s'pose he 's more thaa 
thirty." 



iS2 REBECCA 

*' He could get a wife in Riverboro if he was a 
hundred and thirty/' remarked Miss Miranda. 

** Adam's aunt says he was so taken with the little 
girl that sold the soap (Clara Belle, did you say her 
name was ?), that he declared he was g^ing to bring 
her a Christmas present/' continued Miss Ellen. 

'' Well, there 's no accountin' for tastes/' exclaimed 
Miss Miranda. " Clara Belle 's got cross-eyes and 
red hair, but I 'd be the last one to grudge her a 
Christmas present ; the more Adam Ladd gives to 
her the less the town 'II have to/' 

" Is n't there another Simpson girl ? " asked Miss 
Lydia Bumham ; " for this one could n't have been 
cross-eyed ; I remember Mrs. Ladd saying Adam re- 
marked about this child's handsome eyes. He said 
it was her eyes that made him buy the three hun- 
dred cakes. Mrs. Ladd has it stacked up in the shed 
chamber." 

" Three hundred cakes ! " ejaculated Miranda. 
" Well, there 's one crop that never fails in River- 
boro ! " 

" What 's that > " asked Miss Lydia politely. 

"The fool crop/' responded Miranda tersely, and 
changed the subject, much to Jane's gratitude, for 
she had been ner\'ous and ill at ease for the last fif- 
teen minutes. What child in Riverboro could be 
described as remarkable and winning, save Rebecca? 
Wliat child had wonderful eyes, except the same 
Rebecca ? and finally, was there ever a child in the 



REBECCA 153 

world who could make a man buy soap by the hun- 
dred cakes, save Rebecca ? 

Meantime the '* remarkable " child had flown up 
the road in the deepening dusk, but she had not 
gone far before she heard the sound of hurrying 
footsteps, and saw a well-known fig^e coming in 
her direction. In a moment she and Emma Jane 
met and exchanged a breathless embrace. 

** Something awful has happened/' panted Emma 
Jane. 

" Don't tell me it *s broken/* exclaimed Rebecca. 

** No I oh, no ! not that ! It was packed in straw, 
and every piece came out all right ; and I was there, 
and I never said a single thing about your selling 
the three hundred cakes that got the lamp, so that 
we could be together when you told/' 

" Our selling the three hundred cakes," corrected 
Rebecca ; *' you did as much as I." 

** No, I did n't, Rebecca Randall. I j ust sat at the 
gate and held the horse," 

''Yes, but whose horse was it that took us to 
North Riverboro? And besides, it just happened 
to be my turn. If you had gone in and found Mr. 
Aladdin you would have had the wonderful lamp 
gfiven to you ; but what *s the trouble ? " 

" The Simpsons have no kerosene and no wicks. 
I guess they thought a banquet lamp was some- 
thing that lighted itself, and burned without any 
help. Seesaw has gone to the doctor's to try if he 



»S4 



REBECCA 



cao borrow a wick, and mother let me have a [Mot 
sf oil, but she says she won't give me any inor& 
We ne%'cr thought of the expense of keeping up 
the lamp, Rebecca." 

" No, we did n't, but let "s not worry about that 
tUl after the party. I have a handful of auts and 
raisins and some apples." 

" 1 have peppermints and maple sugar," said 
Emma Jane. "They had a real Thanksgiving din- 
ner ; the doctor gave them sweet potatoes and crao- 
berries and turnips ; father sent a spare-rib, and Mrs. 
Cobb a chicken and a jar of mince-meaL" 

At half past five one might have looked in at 
the Simpsons' windows, and seen the party at its 
height Mrs. Simpson had let the kitchen fite die 
oat. and had brought the baby to grace the festal 
scene. The lamp seemed to be having the party, 
and receiving the guests. The children had taken 
the one small table in the house, and it was placed 
in the far comer of the room to serve as a pedcataL 
On it stood the sacred, the adored, the long-desbed 
object ; almost aa beaatiful. and nearly half as large 
■s the advertisement The brass glistened like gold, 
and the crimson paper shade glowed like a giant 
ruby. In the wide splash of light that it flung upon 
the floor sat the Simpsons, in reverent and solema 
^ence, Emma Jane standing behbd them, hand in 
hand with Rebeccx There seemed to be no denra 
ior conversatioo ; the oocaakm was too thrilling and 



REBECCA 155 

•erious for that. The lamp, it was tacitly felt by 
everybody, was dignifying the party, and provid- 
ing su£5cient entertainment simply by its presence ; 
being fully as satisfactory in its way as a pianola or 
a string band. 

'' I wish father could see it," said Clara Belle 
loyally. 

''If he onth thaw it he'd want to thwap it." 
murmured Susan sagaciously. 

At the appointed hour Rebecca dragged herself 
reluctantly away from the enchanting scene. 

" I '11 turn the lamp out the minute I think you 
and Emma Jane are home,'' said Clara Belle. 
** And, oh I I 'm so glad you both live where you 
can see it shine from our windows. I wonder how 
long it will bum without bein' filled if I only keep 
it lit one hour every night ? *' 

" You need n't put it out for want o' karosene,'* 
said Seesaw, coming in from the shed, ** for there 's 
a great kag of it sett in' out there. Mr. Tubbs 
brought it over from North Riverboro and said 
somebody sent an order by mail for it" 

Rebecca squeezed Emma Jane's arm, and Emma 
Jane g^ve a rapturous return squeeze. " It was Mr. 
Aladdin," whispered Rebecca, as they ran down 
the path to the gate. Seesaw followed them and 
handsomely offered to see them " a piece " down 
the road, but Rebecca declined his escort with 
tuch decision that he did not press the matter, but 



156 REBECCA 

went to bed to dream of her instead. In his dreamt 
flashes of lightning proceeded from both her eyes, 
and she held a flaming sword in either hand. 

Rebecca entered the home dining-reom joyously. 
The Bumham sisters had gone and the two aunts 
were knitting. 

'' It was a heavenly party/' she cried, taking off" 
her hat and cape. 

^Go back and see if you have shut the door 
tight, and then lock it," said Miss Miranda, in her 
usual austere manner. 

^ It was a heavenly party/' reiterated Rebecca, 
coming in again, much too excited to be easfly 
crushed, ''and oh I aunt Jane, aunt Miranda, if 
you '11 only come into the kitchen and look out of 
the sink window, you can sec the banquet lamp 
shining all red, just as if the Simpsons' house was 
on fire." 

** And probably it will be before long," observed 
Miranda. " I Ve got no patience with such foolish 
goin*s-on." 

Jane accompanied Rebecca into the kitchen. 
Although the feeble glimmer which she was able 
to see from that distance did not seem to her a 
dazzling exhibition, she tried to be as enthusiastic 
as possible. 

" Rebecca, who was it that sold the three hun- 
dred cakes of soap to Mr. Ladd in North River- 
boro?'* 



REBECCA 157 

^Mr. f(^ f " exclaimed Rebecca. 

" Mr. Ladd, in North Riverboro." 

''Is that his real name?" queried Rebecca in 
astonishment ** I did n't make a bad guess ; " and 
she laughed softly to herself. 

''I asked you who sold the soap to Adam 
Ladd ? " resumed Miss Jane. 

''Adam Ladd I then he's A Ladd, too; what 
fun I " 

•Answer me, Rebecca." 

"Oh I excuse me, aunt Jane, I was so busy 
thinking. Emma Jane and I sold the soap to Mr. 
Ladd." 

" Did you tease him, or make him buy it ? " 

"Now, aunt Jane, how could I make a big 
grown-up man buy anything if he did n't want to ? 
He needed the soap dreadfully as a present for his 
aunt." 

Miss Jane still looked a little unconvinced, 
though she only said, "I hope your aunt Miranda 
won't mind, but you know how particular she is, 
Rebecca, and I really wish you would n*t do any- 
thing out of the ordinary without asking her first, 
for your actions are very queer." 

"There can't be anything wrong this time,** 
Rebecca answered confidently. " Emma Jane sold 
her cakes to her own relations and to uncle Jerry 
Cobb, and I went first to those new tenements near 
the lumber mill, and then to the Ladds*. Mr. Ladd 



158 REBECCA 

bought all we had and made us promise to keep 
the secret until the premium came, and I 've been 
going about ever since as if the banquet lamp was 
inside of me all lighted up and burning, for every* 
body to see." 

Rebecca's hair was loosened and falling over her 
forehead in ruffled waves ; her eyes were brilliant^ 
her cheeks crimson; there was a hint of every- 
thing in the girl's face, — of sensitiveness and deli- 
cacy as well as of ardor ; there was the sweetness 
of the mayflower and the strength of the young 
oak, but one could easily divine that she was one of 

* The tools by nature pitched too high* 
By ioffering plunged too low.'* 

"That 's just the way you look, for all the world 
as if you did have a lamp burning inside of you/' 
sighed aunt Jane. " Rebecca ! Rebecca I I wish 
you could take things easier, child ; I am fearful 
for you sometimes." 



XVI 

SEASONS OF GROWTH 

THE days flew by; as summer had melted 
into autumn so autumn had given place to 
winter. Life in the brick house had gone 
on more placidly of late, for Rebecca was honestly 
trying to be more careful in the performance of her 
tasks and duties as well as more quiet in her plays, 
and she was slowly learning the power of the soft 
answer in turning away wrath. 

Miranda had not had, perhaps, quite as many 
opportxmities in which to lose her temper, but it is 
only just to say that she had not fully availed herself 
of all that had ofifered themselves. 

There had been one outburst of righteous wrath 
occasioned by Rebecca's over- hospitable habits, 
which were later shown in a still more dramatic and 
unexpected fashion. 

On a certain Friday afternoon she asked her aunt 
Miranda if she might take half her bread and milk 
upstairs to a friend. 

" What friend have you got up there, for pity's 
sake ? " demanded aunt Miranda. 

" The Simpson baby, come to stay over Sunday ; 
that is, if you 're willing, Mrs. Simpson says she it. 



i6d REBECCA 

Shan I bring lierdofim and shofv her? She'sdresaed 
in an dd dress (rf Emma Jane's and she looks sweet** 

*^ YoQ can bring her down, but yon can't show 
her to me ! Yon can smuggle her oat the way you 
smuggled her in and take her back to her mother. 
Where on earth do you get your notions^ borrowing 
a baby for Sunday ! " 

^You're so used to a house without a baby you 
don't know how dull it is," sighed Rebecca resign- 
edly, as she moved towards the door ; ** but at the 
farm there was always a nice fresh one to play with 
and cuddle. There were too many, but that 's not 
half as bad as none at alL Well, 1 11 take her back. 
She '11 be dreadfully disappointed and so will Mrs. 
Simpson. She was planning to p> to Mflltown." 

'' She can un-plan then," observed Miss Miranda. 

** Perhaps I can go up there and take care of the 
baby ? " suggested Rebecca. " I brought her home 
so 't I could do my Saturday work just the same." 

" You 've got enough to do right here, without 
any borrowed babies to make more steps. Now, no 
answering back, just g^ve the child some supper and 
carry it home where it belongs." 

" You don't want me to go down the front way, 
hadn't I better just come through this room and 
let you look at her ? She has yellow hair and big 
blue eyes I Mrs. Simpson says she takes after her 
father." 

Miranda smiled acidly as she said she 



REBECCA i6i 

cotdd n't take after ber father, for he 'd take any* 
thing there was before she got there I 

Aunt Jane was in the linen closet upstairs, sort- 
ing out the clean sheets and pillow cases for Satur* 
day, and Rebecca sought comfort from her. 

*' I brought the Simpson baby home, aunt Jane, 
thinking it would help us over a dull Sunday, but 
aunt Miranda won't let her stay. Emma Jane has 
the promise of her next Sunday and Alice Robinson 
the next. Mrs. Simpson wanted I should have her 
first because I 've had so much experience in babies. 
Come in and look at her sitting up in my bed, aunt 
Jane I Is n't she lovely ? She 's the fat, gurgly 
kind, not thin and fussy like some babies, and I 
thought I was going to have her to undress and 
dress twice each day. Oh dear! I wish I could 
have a printed book with everything set down in it 
that I could 60t and then I would n't get disappointed 
so often." 

"No book could be printed that would fit yoUt 
Rebecca," answered aunt Jane, " for nobody could 
imagine beforehand the things you 'd want to da 
Are you g^ing to carry that heavy child home in 
your arms ^ " 

''No, I'm going to drag her in the little 
soap-wagon. Come, baby I Take your thumb out of 
your mouth and come to ride with Becky in your 
go-cart." She stretched out her strong young arms 
to the crowing baby, sat down in a chair with the 



iGs 



REBECCA 



ciuld, turned her upside down unceremontonsljr, 
took trom her waistband and scomdilly flung away 
s crooked pin, walked with her (still in a highly 
reversed position) to the bureau, selected a large 
safety pin, and proceeded to attach her brief rod 
flannel petticoat to a sort of shirt that she wore 
Whether flat on her stomach, or head down, heeU 
in the air, the Simpson baby knew she was in the 
bands of an expert, and continued gurgling [^acidly 
while aunt Jane regarded the pantomime with t 
kind of dazed awe. 

" Hless my soul, Rebecca," she ejaculated, *• it 
beats all how handy you are with babies t" 

"I ought to be; I've brought up three and a 
half of 'em," Rebecca responded cheerfully, pulling 
up the infant Simpson's stockings. 

" I should think you 'd be fonder of dolls than 
you are," said Jane. 

" I do like them, but there 's never any change 
in a doll ; it 's alwa>'8 the same everlasting old doll, 
and you have to make believe it 's cross or uck, or 
it loves you, or can't bear you. Babies are more 
trouble, but nicer." 

Miss Jane stretched out a thin hand with a aleo* 
der, worn bond of gold on the finger, and the baby 
curled her dimpled fingers round it and held it fast. 

"You wear a ring on your engagement finger, 
don't you, aunt Jane i Did you ever think about 
getting nuuried ?" 



REBECCA 163 

••Yes, dear, long ago.** 

•• What happened, aunt Jane ? " 

*' He died — j ust before.** 

'• Oh ! " And Rebecca's eyes grew misty. 

** He was a soldier and he died of a gunshot 
wound, in a hospital, down South." 

" Oh 1 aunt Jane 1 " softly. '• Away from you ? ** 

" No, I was with him." 

" Was he young ? " 

** Yes ; young and brave and handsome, Rebecca ; 
he was Mr. Carter's brother Tom." 

'' Oh I I 'm so glad you were with him I Was n*t 
he glad, aunt Jane ? *' 

Jane looked back across the half-forgotten years, 
and the vision of Tom's gladness flashed upon her : 
his haggard smile, the tears in his tired eyes, his out- 
stretched arms, his weak voice saying, '' Oh, Jenny I 
Dear Jenny I I 've wanted you so, Jenny 1 " It was 
too much I She had never breathed a word of it be- 
fore to a human creature, for there was no one who 
would have understood Now, in a shamefaced way, 
to hide her brimming eyes, she put her head down 
on the young shoulder beside her, saying, " It was 
hard, Rebecca ! " 

The Simpson baby had cuddled down sleepily in 
Rebecca's lap, leaning her head back and sucking 
her thumb contentedly. Rebecca put her cheek 
down until it touched her aunt's g^y hair and softly 
patted her, as she said, " I 'm sorry, aunt Jane I ** 



««4 



REBECCA 



The girPs eyes were soft and tender and the 
heart within her stretched a litlle aad grew ; grew 
in sweetness and intuition and depth of feeling. It 
had looked into another heart, felt it beat, and 
heard it sigh ; and that is how all hearts grow. 

Episodes like these enlivened the quiet course of 
every-day existence, made more quiet by the depar- 
ture of Dick Carter, Living Perkins, and Huldah 
Meserve for Wareham, and the small attendance at 
the winter school, from which the younger children 
of the place stayed away during the cold weather. 

Life, however, could never be thoroughly duD 
or lacking in adventure to a child of Rebecca's 
temperament Her nature was full of adaptability, 
fluidity, receptivity. She made friends ever ywh ere 
she went, and snatched up acquaintances in eveiy 
comer. 

It was she who ran to tbe shed door to take ibc 
dish to the " meat roan " or " fish man : " she who 
knew the family histories of tbe itinerant fruit \Tn- 
der3 and tin peddlers ; she who was asked to take 
supper or pass the night with children in neighbor' 
ing villages — children of whose parents her aunts 
had never so much as heard. As to the nature of 
these friendships, which seemed so many to the 
eye of tbe superficial ohscr\'er, they were of \'ari- 
ous Unds, and while the girl pursued them with 
enthusiasm and ardor, they left her unsatisfied and 
bcart-bungry ; they were never intiraacies such as 



^^ 



REBECCA 165 

are so readfly made by shallow natures. She loved 
Emma Jane, but it was a friendship bom of propin- 
quity and circumstance, not of true affinity. It was 
her neighbor's amiability, constancy, and devotion 
that she loved, and although she rated these quali- 
ties at their true value, she was always searching 
beyond them for intellectual treasures; searching 
and never finding, for although Emma Jane had 
the advantage in years she was still immature. 
Huldah Meserve had an instinctive love of fun 
which appealed to Rebecca ; she also had a fasci- 
nating knowledge of the world, from having visited 
her married sisters in Milltown and Portland ; but 
on the other hand there was a certain sharpness 
and lack of sympathy in Huldah which repelled 
rather than attracted. With Dick Carter she could 
at least talk intelligently about lessons. He was a 
very ambitious boy, full of plans for his future, which 
he discussed quite freely with Rebecca, but when 
she broached the subject of her future his interest 
sensibly lessened. Into the world of the ideal Emma 
Jane, Huldah, and Dick alike never seemed to have 
peeped, and the consciousness of this was always a 
fixed gulf between them and Rebecca. 

"Uncle Jerry" and "aunt Sarah" Cobb were 
dear friends of quite another sort, a very satisfying 
and perhaps a somewhat dangerous one. A visit 
from Rebecca always sent them into a twitter of 
delighL Her merry conversation and quaint com* 




166 



REBECCA 



ments on life in general fairly dazzled the old couple^ 
who hung on her lightest word as if it haul been 
a prophet's utterance ; and Rebecca, though she 
bad had no previous experience, owned to herself ft 
perilous pleasure in being dazzling, even to a coui^tt 
I of dearhumdnim old people like Mr.and Mrs. Cobtx 
1 Aunt Sarah flew to the pantry or cellar whenever 
Rebecca's slim little shape first appeared on the crest 
of the hill, and a jelly tart or a frosted cake was sure 
to be forthcoming. The »ight of old uncle Jerry's 
spare figure in its clean white shirt &tecves, what- 
ever the weather, always made Kcbccca*s heart warm 
when she saw him peer longingly from the kitchen 
window. Before the snow came, many was the time 
he had come out to sit on a pile of boards at the 
gate, to see if by any chance she was mounting the 
hill that led to their house. In the autumn Rebecca 
was often the old man's companion while he was 
digging potatoes or shelling beans, and now in tba 
winter, when a younger man was driving the stagey 
she sometimes stayed with him while he did his 
evening milking. It is safe to say that he was the 
ftonly creature in Riverboro who possessed Rebecca's 
^entire confidence ; the only being to whom she 
' poured out her whole heart, with its wealth of bopesi 
and dreams, and vague ambitions. At the brick 
house she practiced scales and eierciscs, but at the 
Cobbs' cabinet organ she sang like a bird, iraprovis- 
ug simple accompanhBcnts that teemed to her 



REBECCA 167 

fgnwant auditors nothing short of marvdous. Here 
she was happy, here she was loved, here she was 
drawn out of herself and admired and made much 
of. But, she thought, if there were somebody who 
not only loved but understood ; who spoke her lan- 
guage, comprehended her desires, and responded to 
her mysterious longings I Perhaps in the big world 
of Wareham there would be people who thought 
and dreamed and wondered as she did. 

In reality Jane did not understand her niece very 
much better than Miranda ; the difference between 
the sisters was, that while Jane was puzzled, she 
was also attracted, and when she was quite in the 
dark for an explanation of some quaint or unusual 
action she was sympathetic as to its possible motive 
and believed the best A greater change had come 
over Jane than over any other person in the brick 
house, but it had been wrought so secretly, and con- 
cealed so religiously, that it scarcely appeared to the 
ordinary observer. Life had now a motive utterly 
lacking before. Breakfast was not eaten in the 
kitchen, because it seemed worth while, now that 
there were three persons, to lay the cloth in the din- 
ing-room ; it was also a more bountiful meal than of 
yore, when there was no child to consider. The 
morning was made cheerful by Rebecca's start for 
school, the packing of the luncheon basket, the final 
word about umbrella, waterproof, or rubbers ; the 
parting admonition and the unconscious waiting at 



l68 



REBECCA 



the window for the last wave of the hand. Sheiound 
herself taking pride in Rebecca's unproved appear* 
ance, her rounder throat and cheeks, and her better 
color ; she was wont to mention the length of Re- 
becca's hair and add a word as to its remarkable 
evenness and lustre, at times when Mrs. Perkina 
grew too diffuse about Emma Jane's comfdexioti. 
She threw herself wholeheartedly on her niece's side 
when it became a question between a crinuoa or 
a brown linsey-woolsey dress, and went throilgb ft 
memorable str\]ggle with her sister concerning the 
purchase of a red bird for Rebecca's black felt hat 
No one guessed the quiet pleasure that lay hidden ia 
her heart when she n-atched the girl's dark head bent 
over her lessons at night, nor dreamed of her joy in 
certain quiet evenings when Miranda went to prayer 
meeting; evenings when Rebecca would read aloud 
Hiawatha or Barbara Frietchic, The Bugle Song, 
or The Brook. Her narrow, humdrum existence 
bloomed under the dews that fell from this fresh 
spirit ; her dullness brightened under the kindling 
touch of the younger mind, took fire from the "vital 
spark of heavenly flame" that seemed alwtyi to 
radiate from Rebecca's presence. 

Rebecca's idea of being a painter like her friend 
MUs Ross was gradually receding, owing to the ap- 
parently insuperable difficulties in securing any in- 
struction. Her aunt Miranda saw no wisdom in cul- 
tivating such a talent, and could not conceive that 



REBECCA 169 

any money could ever be earned by its exercise. 
** Hand painted pictures " were held in little esteem 
in Riverboro, where the cheerful chromo or the 
dignified steel engraving were respected and valued 
There was a slight, a very slight hope, that Rebecca 
might be allowed a few music lessons from Miss 
Morton, who played the church cabinet organ, but 
this depended entirely upon whether Mrs. Morton 
would decide to accept a hayrack in return for a 
year's instruction from her daughter. She had the 
matter under advisement, but a doubt as to whether 
or not she would sell or rent her hayfields kept her 
from coming to a conclusion. Music, in common 
with all other accomplishments, was viewed by Miss 
Miranda as a trivial, useless, and foolish amusement, 
but she allowed Rebecca an hour a day for prac- 
tice on the old piano, and a little extra time for les- 
sons, if Jane could secure them without payment of 
actual cash. 

The news from Sunnybrook Farm was hopeful 
rather than otherwise. Cousin Ann's husband had 
died, and John, Rebecca's favorite brother, had gone 
to be the man of the house to the widowed cousin. 
He was to have good schooling in return for his care 
of the horse and cow and barn, and what was still 
more dazzling, the use of the old doctor's medical 
library of two or three dozen volumes. John's whole 
heart was set on becoming a country doctor, with 
Rebecca to keep house for him, and the vision 



I70 REBECCA 

seemed now so true, so near« that he could almost 
imagine his horse ploughing through snowdrifts on 
errands of mercy, or^ less dramatic but none the 
less attractive, could see a physician's neat turnout 
trundling along the shady country roads, a medicine 
case between his. Dr. Randall's, feet, and Miss Re- 
becca Randall sitting in a black silk dress by his 
side. 

Hannah now wore her hair in a coQ and her 
dresses a trifle below her ankles, these concessions 
being due to her extreme height Mark had broken 
his collar bone, but it was healing well Little Mira 
was gfrowing very pretty. There was even a rumor 
that the projected railroad from Temperance to 
Plumville might go near the Randall farm, in which 
case land would rise in value from nothing-at-all an 
acre to something at least resembling a price. Mrs. 
Randall refused to consider any improvement in 
their financial condition as a possibility. Content to 
work from sunrise to sunset to gain a mere sub- 
sistence for her children, she lived in their future, 
not in her own present, as a mother is wont to do 
when her own lot seems hard and cheerless. 



xvn 

GRAY DAYS AND GOLD 

WHEN Rebecca looked back upon the 
year or two that followed the Simpsons' 
Thanksgiving party, she could see only 
certain milestones rising in the quiet pathway of 
the months. 

The first milestone was Christmas Day. It was 
a freshi crystal morning, with icicles hanging like 
dazzling pendants from the trees and a glaze of 
pale blue on the surface of the snow. The Simp- 
sons' red bam stood out, a glowing mass of color in 
the white landscape. Rebecca had been busy for 
weeks before, trying to make a present for each of 
the seven persons at Sunnybrook Farm, a some* 
what difficult proceeding on an expenditure of fifty 
cents, hoarded by incredible exertion. Success had 
been achieved, however, and the precious packet 
had been sent by post two days previous. Miss 
Sawyer had bought her niece a nice g^y squirrel 
muff and tippet, which was even more unbecoming^ 
if possible, than Rebecca's other articles of wear- 
ing apparel ; but aunt Jane had made her the love- 
liest dress of green cashmere, a soft, soft green like 
that of a young leaf. It was very simply made, but 
the color delighted the eye. Then there was % 



173 REBECCA 

beautiful *^ tatting '' collar from her mother* some 
scarlet mittens from Mrs. Cobb» and a handker- 
chief from Emma Jane. 

Rebecca herself had fashioned an elaborate tea- 
cosy with a letter " M " in outline stitch, and a 
pretty frilled pincushion marked with a ** J/' for her 
two aunts, so that taken all together the day would 
have been an unequivocal success had nothing else 
happened ; but something else did. 

There was a knock at the door at breakfast time» 
and Rebecca, answering it, was asked by a boy if 
Miss Rebecca Randall lived there. On being told 
that she did, he handed her a parcel bearing her 
name, a parcel which she took like one in a dream 
and bore into the dining-room. 

" It 's a present ; it must be," she said, looking 
at it in a dazed sort of way ; " but I can't think 
who it could be from." 

" A good way to find out would be to open it," 
remarked Miss Miranda. 

The parcel being untied proved to have two 
smaller packages within, and Rebecca opened with 
trembling fingers the one addressed to her. Any- 
body's fingers would have trembled. There was a 
case which, when the cover was lifted, disclosed a 
long chain of delicate pink coral beads, — a chain 
ending in a cross made of coral rosebuds. A card 
with "Merry Christmas from Mr. Aladdin" lay 
under the cross. 



REBECCA 173 

'^ Of all things I " exclaimed the two old ladies, 
rising in their seats. '' Who sent it ? " 

" Mr. Ladd/' said Rebecca under her breath. 

" Adam Ladd ! Well I never ! Don't you remem- 
ber Ellen Burnham said he was going to send 
Rebecca a Christmas present ? But I never sup- 
posed he 'd think of it again/' said Jane. " What 'a 
the other package ? " 

It proved to be a silver chain with a blue enamel 
locket on it, marked for Emma Jane. That added 
the last touch — to have him remember them both I 
There was a letter also, which ran : — 

Dear Miss Rebecca Rowena, — My idea of a 
Christmas present is something entirely unneces- 
sary and useless. I have always noticed when I 
give this sort of thing that people love it, so I 
hope I have not chosen wrong for you and your 
friend. You must wear your chain this afternoon, 
please, and let me see it on your neck, for I am 
coming over in my new sleigh to take you both to 
drive. My aunt is delighted with the soap. 

Sincerely your friend, 

Adam Ladix 

"Well, well ! " cried Miss Jane, " is n't that kind 
of him ? He *s very fond of children, Lyddy Bum- 
bam says. Now eat your breakfast, Rebecca, and 
after we Ve done the dishes you can run over to 



174 



REBECCA 



Emma's and give her her chain — What 's the mat* 
ter, child ? " 

Rebecca's emotions seemed always to be Mored, 

as it were, in adjoining compartments, and to be 

continually getting mixed. At this moment, though 

1 her joy was too deep for words, her bread and but- 

l ter almost choked her, and at intervals a tear stole 

furtively down her check. 

Mr. Ladd called as be promised, and made the 
acquaintance of the aunts, understanding them both 
in five minutes as well as if he had known them 
for years. On a footstool near the open fire sat 
Rebecca, silent and shy, so conscious of her fine 
apparel and the presence of aunt Miranda that she 
could not utter a word. It was one of her " beauty 
days." Happiness, excitement, the color of the 
green dress, and the touch of lovely pink in the 
coral necklace bad transformed the little brown 
wren for the time into a bird of plumage, and Adam 
Ladd watched her with evident satisfaction. Then 
there was the sleigh ride, during which she fooad 
her tongue and chattered like any magpie, and ao 
ended that glorious Christmas Day ; and many and 
many a night thereafter did Rebecca go to sleep 
with the precious coral chain under her pillow, one 
hand always upon tt to be certain that it was safe. 
Another milestone was the departure o( the 
Simpsons from Riverboro, bag and baggage, the 
banquet lamp being their most conspicuous possea* 



REBECCA 175 

sion. It was delightful to be rid of Seesaw's hate- 
ful presence; but otherwise the loss of several 
playmates at one fell swoop made rather a gap 
in Rivcrboro's "younger set," and Rebecca was 
obliged to make friends with the Robinson baby^ 
he being the only long-clothes child in the village 
that winter. The faithful Seesaw had called at the 
side door of the brick house on the evening before 
his departure, and when Rebecca answered his 
knock, stammered solemnly, ** Can I k-keep com- 
pany with you when you g-g-row up ? " " Certainly 
mff,*' replied Rebecca, closing the door somewhat 
too speedily upon her precocious swain. 

Mr. Simpson had come home in time to move 
his wife and children back to the town that had 
given them birth, a town by no means r/aiting with 
open arms to receive them. The Simpsons' moving 
was presided over by the village authorities and 
somewhat anxiously watched by the entire neigh- 
borhood, but in spite of all precautions a pulpit 
chair, several kerosene lamps, and a small stove 
disappeared from the church and were success- 
fully swapped in the course of Mr. Simpson's 
driving tour from the old home to the new. It gave 
Rebecca and Emma Jane some hours of sorrow to 
learn that a certain village in the wake of Abner 
Simpson's line of progress had acquired, through 
the medium of an ambitious young minister, a mag- 
nificent lamp for its new church parlors. No money 



176 REBECCA 

changed hands in the operation, for the minister 
succeeded in getting the lamp in return for an old 
bicycle. The only pleasant feature of the whole 
affair was that Mr. Simpson, wholly unable to con* 
sole his offspring for the loss of the beloved object, 
moimted the bicycle and rode away on it« not to 
be seen or heard of again for many a long day. 

The year was notable also as being the one in 
which Rebecca shot up like a young tree. She had 
seemingly never grown an inch since she was ten 
years old, but once started she attended to grow* 
ing precisely as she did other things, — with such 
energy, that Miss Jane did nothing for months but 
lengthen skirts, sleeves, and waists. In spite of all 
the arts known to a thrifty New England woman, 
the limit of letting down and piecing down was 
reached at lost, and the dresses were sent to Sunny- 
brook Farm to be made over for Jenny. 

There was another milestone, a sad one, mark- 
ing a little grave under a willow tree at Sunny- 
brook Farm. Mira, the baby of the Randall family, 
died, and Rebecca went home for a fortnight's 
visit. The sight of the small still shape that had 
been Mira, the baby who had been her special 
charge ever since her birth, woke into being a host 
of new thoughts and wonderments ; for it is some- 
times the mystery of death that brings one to a 
consciousness of the still greater mystery of life. 

It was a sorrowful home-coming for Rebecca. The 



REBECCA 177 

death of Mira, the absence of John, who bad been 
her special comrade, the sadness of her mother, the 
isolation of the little house, and the pinching 
economies that went on within it, all conspired to 
depress a child who was so sensitive to beauty and 
harmony as Rebecca. 

Hannah seemed to have grown into a woman 
during Rebecca's absence. There had always been 
a strange unchildlikc air about Hannah, but in cer- 
tain ways she now appeared older than aunt Jane 
— soberer, and more settled. She was pretty, 
though in a colorless fashion ; pretty and capable. 

Rebecca walked through all the old playgrounds 
and favorite haunts of her early childhood ; all her 
familiar, her secret places ; some of them known to 
John, some to herself alone. There was the spot 
where the Indian pipes grew ; the particular bit of 
marshy ground where the fringed gentians used to 
be largest and bluest ; the rock maple where she 
found the oriole's nest ; the hedge where the field 
mice lived ; the moss-covered stump where the 
white toadstools were wont to spring up as if by 
magic ; the hole at the root of the old pine where an 
ancient and honorable toad made his home ; these 
were the landmarks of her childhood, and she looked 
at them as across an immeasurable distance. The 
dear little sunny brook, her chief companion after 
John, was sorry company at this seasoa There 
was no laughing water sparkling in the sunshine. 



178 REBECCA 

In summer the merry stream had danced over 
pebbles on its way to deep pools where it could be 
still and think. Now, like Mira, it was cold and 
quiet, wrapped in its shroud of snow ; but Rebecca 
knelt by the brink, and putting her ear to the glaze 
of ice, fancied, where it used to be deepest, she could 
hear a faint, tinkling sound. It was all right I Sunny- 
brook would sing again in the spring ; perhaps Mira 
too would have her sing^g time somewhere — she 
wondered where and how. In the course of these 
lonely rambles she was ever thinking, thinking, 
of one subject. Hannah had never had a chance; 
never been freed from the daily care and work of 
the farm. She, Rebecca, had enjoyed all the privi- 
leges thus far. Life at the brick house had not been 
by any means a path of roses, but there had been 
comfort and the companionship of other children, as 
well as chances for study and reading. Riverboro 
had not been the world itself, but it had been a 
glimpse of it through a tiny peephole that was in- 
finitely better than nothing. Rebecca shed more 
than one quiet tear before she could trust herself to 
offer up as a sacrifice that which she so much desired 
for herself. Then one morning as her visit neared 
its end she plunged into the subject boldly and 
said, " Hannah, after this term I 'm going to stay 
at home and let you go away. Aunt Miranda has 
always wanted you, and it 's only fair you should 
have your turn.** 



REBECCA 



179 



Hannah was darning stockings, and she threaded 
her needle and snipped off the yam before she an- 
swered, " No, thank you, Becky. Mother could n't 
do without me, and I hate going to school I can 
read and write and cipher as well as anybody now, 
and that 's enough for me. I 'd die rather than teach 
school for a living. The winter '11 go fast, for Will 
Melville is going to lend me his mother's sewing 
machine, and I 'm going to make white petticoats 
out of the piece of muslin aunt Jane sent, and have 
'em just solid with tucks. Then there 's going to 
be a singing-school and a social circle in Temper- 
ance after New Year's, and I shall have a real good 
time now I 'm grown up. I 'm not one to be lone- 
some, Becky," Hannah ended with a blush ; '' I love 
this place." 

Rebecca saw that she was speaking the truth, but 
she did not understand the blush till a year or two 
later. 



XVIII 

REBECCA REPRESENTS THE FAMILY 

THERE was another milestone ; it was more 
than that, it was an ''event;" an event 
that made a deep impression in several 
quarters and left a wake of smaller events in its 
train. This was the coming to Riverboro of the 
Reverend Amos Burch and wife, returned mission- 
aries from Syria. 

The Aid Society bad called its meeting for a 
certain Wednesday in March of the year in which 
Rebecca ended her Riverboro school days and 
began her studies at Wareham. It was a raw, 
blustering day, snow on the ground and a look in 
the sky of more to follow. Both Miranda and Jane 
had taken cold and decided that they could not 
leave the house in such weather, and this deflection 
from the f)ath of duty worried Miranda, since she 
was an officer of the society. After making the 
breakfast table sufficiently uncomfortable and wish- 
ing plaintively that Jane would n't always insist on 
being sick at the same time she was, she decided 
that Rebecca must go to the meeting in their 
stead. " You *11 be better than nobody, Rebecca/' 
she said flatteringly; "your aunt Jane shall write 
an excuse from afternoon school for you ; you can 



REBECCA i8i 

wear your rubber boots and come borne by the 
way of the meet in' house. This Mr. Burch, if I 
remember right, used to know your grandfather 
Sawyer, and stayed here once when he was candi* 
datin*. He'll mebbe look for us there, and you 
must just go and represent the family, an* give him 
our respects. Be careful how you behave. Bow 
your head in prayer ; sing all the hymns, but not 
too loud and bold ; ask after Mis' Strout's boy ; 
tell everybody what awful colds we 've got ; if you 
see a good chance, take your pocket handkerchief 
and wipe the dust off the melodeon before the 
meetin' begins, and get twenty-five cents out of the 
sittin' room match-box in case there should be a 
collection." 

Rebecca willingly assented. Anything interested 
her, even a village missionary meeting, and the idea 
of representing the family was rather intoxicating. 

The service was held in the Sunday-school room, 
and although the Rev. Mr. Burch was on the plat- 
form when Rebecca entered, there were only a 
doien persons present. Feeling a little shy and con- 
siderably too young for this assemblage, Rebecca 
sought the shelter of a friendly face, and seeing 
Mrs. Robinson in one of the side seats near the 
front, she walked up the aisle and sat beside her. 

** Both my aunts had bad colds," she said softly, 
•*and sent me to represent the family." 

^ That 's Mrs. Burch on the platform with her 



Ifo 



REBECCA 



husband," whispered Mrs. Robinson. " She 's awful 
tanned up, ain't she ? If you 're gbin' to save souU 
seems like you hev' to part with your complexion. 
Eudoxy Morton ain't come yet ; 1 hope to the land 
she will, or Mis' Deacon MUliken 'II pitch the tunes 
where we can't reach 'em with a ladder; can't 
you pitch, afore she gits her breath and clears her 
throat ? " 

Mrs. Burch was a slim, frail little woman with 
dark hair, a broad low forehead, and j'latient mouth. 
She was dressed in a well-worn black silk, and 
looked so tired that Rebecca's heart went out to 
her. 

" They 're poor as Job's turkey," whispered Mrm. 

Robinson ; •' but if you give "cm anything they 'd 

turn right round and give it to the heathen. Hts 

' congregation up to Parsonsfield clubbed togtthcr 

l«Dd give him that gold watch be carries ; I s^xne 

Plw'd 'a' handed that over too, only heathens always 

tell time by the sun 'n' don't need watches. Eiidoxy 

ain't comin' ; now for massy's sake, Rebecca, do 

git ahead of Mis' Deacon Millikcn and pitch real 

low," 

The meeting began with prayer and then the 
Rev. Mr. Uurch announced, to the tune of Uok 
don: — 

"Clrnrdi of our Cod t uite and Mat, 
Briihl viih iba baam* of truth dlrlM : 
TImo (IuU thj twlUnu lucam alar, 
Wtd* aa iha hoatbati utlOM ut. 



REBECCA 183 

'Gentflet and kingi thy light shall Tlevb 
And ihaU admire and Iotc thae too; 
l*hey come, like clouds across the sky, 
As doves that to their windows fly.** 

'' Is there any one present who will assist us at 
the instrument ? " he asked unexpectedly. 

Everybody looked at everybody else, and nobody 
moved ; then there came a voice out of a far corner 
saying informally, " Rebecca, why don't you ? " It 
was Mrs. Cobb. Rebecca could have played Men- 
don in the dark, so she went to the mclodeon and 
did so without any ado, no member of her family 
being present to give her self-consciousness. 

The talk that ensued was much the usual sort of 
thing. Mr. Burch made impassioned appeals for the 
spreading of the gospel, and added his entreaties 
that all who were prevented from visiting in per- 
son the peoples who sat in darkness should con- 
tribute liberally to the support of others who could. 
But he did more than this. He was a pleasant, ear- 
nest speaker, and he interwove his discourse with 
stories of life in a foreign land, — of the manners, 
the customs, the speech, the point of view ; even 
giving glimpses of the daily round, the common 
task, of his own household, the work of his de- 
voted helpmate and their little group of children^ 
all bom under Syrian skies. 

Rebecca sat entranced, having been given the 
key of another world. Riverboro had faded; tlie 



184 REBECCA 

Sunday-school room, with Mrs. Robinson's red plaid 
shawl, and Deacon Milliken's wig, on crooked, the 
bare benches and torn hymn-books, the banging 
texts and maps, were no longer visible, and she 
saw blue skies and biu'ning stars, white turbans 
and gay colors ; Mr. Burch had not said so, but per- 
haps there were mosques and temples and mina- 
rets and date-palms. What stories they must know, 
those children born under Syrian skies f Then 
she was called upon to play ''Jesus shall reign 
where'er the sun." 

The contribution box was passed and Mr. Burch 
prayed. As he opened his eyes and gave out the 
last hymn he looked at the handful of people, at the 
scattered pennies and dimes in the contribution box, 
and reflected that his mission was not only to gather 
funds for the building of his church, but to keep 
alive, in all these remote and lonely neighborhoods, 
that love for the cause which was its only hope in 
the years to come. 

" If any of the sisters will provide entertainment." 
he said, *' Mrs. Burch and I will remain among you 
to-night and to-morrow. In that event we could 
hold a parlor meeting. My wife and one of my 
children would wear the native costume, we would 
display some specimens of Syrian handiwork, and 
give an account of our educational methods with the 
children. These informal parlor meetings, admitting 
(A questions or conversation, are often the means 



REBECCA 185 

of interesting those not commonly found at church 
services ; so I repeat, if any member of the congre- 
gation desires it and offers her hospitality, we will 
gladly stay and tell you more of the Lord's work." 
A pall of silence settled over the little assembly. 
There was some cogent reason why every " sister " 
there was disinclined for company. Some had no 
spare room, some had a larder less well stocked than 
usual, some had sickness in the family, some were 
" unequally yoked together v,ith unbelievers ** who 
disliked strange ministers. Mrs. Burch*s thin hands 
fingered her black silk nervously. " Would no one 
speak I " thought Rebecca, her heart fluttering with 
sympathy. Mrs. Robinson leaned over and whis- 
pered significantly, " The missionaries always used 
to be entertained at the brick house ; your gnaid- 
father never would let 'em sleep anywheres else 
when he was alive." She meant this for a stab at 
Miss Miranda's parsimony, remembering the four 
spare chambers, closed from January to December ; 
but Rebecca thought it was intended as a sugges- 
tioa If it had been a former custom, perhaps her 
aunts would want her to do the right thing; for 
what else was she representing the family ? So, 
delighted that duty lay in so pleasant a direction, 
she rose from her seat and said in the pretty voice 
and with the quaint manner that so separated her 
from all the other young people in the village, " My 
aunts, Miss Miranda and Miss Jane Sawyer, would 



X86 



REBECCA 



b« very happy to have you visit them at the brick 
bouse, as the ministers always used to do when their 
father was alive. They sent their respects by me." 
The "respects" might have been the freedom of 
the city, or an equestrian statue, when presented in 
this way, and the aunts would have shuddered could 
they have foreseen the manner of delivery ; but it 
was vastly impressive to the audience, who cott- 
eluded that Mirandy Sawyer must be making her 
way uncommonly fast to mansions in the skies, eUe 
what meant this abrupt change of heart } 

Mr. Burch bowed courteously, accepted the invi- 
tation " in the same spirit in which it was offered," 
and asked Brother Milliken to lead in prayer. 

If the Eternal Ear could ever tire it would have 
' ceased long ere this to listen to Deacon Milliken, 
who had wafted to the throne of grace the same 
prayer, with very slight variations, for forty years. 
Mrs. Perkins followed ; she had several petitions 
at her command, good sincere ones too, but a little 
cut and dried, made of scripture texts laboriously 
woven together. Rebecca wondered why she always 
ended, at the most peaceful seasons, with the fonn, 
" Do Thou be with us, God of Battles, white we 
strive onward like Christian soldiers marching aa 
to war ; " but c\-erything sounded real to her to4ay ; 
she was in a devout mood, and many things Mr. 
Burch bad said had moved her strangely. As she 
lifted ber bead the minister looked directly at her 



REBECCA 187 

and said, ^* WQl our young sister close the service 
by leading us in prayer ? " 

Every drop of blood in Rebecca's body seemed to 
stand still, and her heart almost stopped beating. 
Mrs. Cobb's excited breathing could be beard dis- 
tinctly in the silence. There was nothing extra- 
ordinary in Mr. Burch's request. In his joumey- 
ings among country congregations he was constantly 
in the habit of meeting young members who had 
" experienced religion " and joined the church when 
nine or ten years old. Rebecca was now thirteen ; 
she had played the melodeon, led the singing, de- 
livered her aunts' invitation with an air of great 
worldly wisdom, and he, concluding that she must 
be a youthful pillar of the church, called upon her 
with the utmost simplicity. 

Rebecca's plight was pathetic How could she 
refuse ; how could she explain she was not a *' mem- 
ber ; " how could she pray before all those elderly 
women ! John Rogers at the stake hardly suffered 
more than this poor child for the moment as she 
rose to her feet, forgetting that ladies prayed sit- 
ting, while deacons stood in prayer. Her mind was 
a maze of pictures that the Rev. Mr. Burch had 
flung on the screen. She knew the conventional 
phraseology, of course ; what New England child, 
accustomed to Wednesday evening meetings, does 
not f But her own secret prayers were different 
However, she began slowly and tremulously : — 



i88 REBECCA 

"Our Father who art in Heaven, . . . Thou art 
God in Syria just the same as in Maine ; . . . over 
there to-day are blue skies and yellow stars and 
burning suns . . . the great trees are waving in the 
warm air» while here the snow lies thick under our 
feet, . . . but no distance is too far for God to travel 
and so He is with us here as He is with them 
there, . . . and our thoughts rise to Him 'as doves 
that to their windows fly/. . . 

'* We cannot all be missionaries, teaching people 
to be good, . . . some of us have not learned yet 
how to be good ourselves, but if thy kingdom is 
to come and thy will is to be done on earth as it 
is in heaven, everybody must try and everybody 
must help, . . . those who are old and tired and 
those who arc young and strong. . . . The little 
children of whom we have heard, those born under 
Syrian skies, have strange and interesting work to 
do for Thee, and some of us would like to travel 
in far lands and do wonderful brave things for the 
heathen and gently take away their idols of wood 
and stone. But perhaps we have to stay at home 
and do what is ^iven us to do . . . sometimes even 
things we dislike, . . . but that must be what it 
means in the hymn wc sanj^, when it talked about 
the sweet perfume that rises with ever)' morning 
sacrifice. . . . This is the way that God teaches us 
to be meek and patient, and the thought that He 
has willed it so should rob us of our fears and help 
us bear the years. Amen." 



REBECCA 189 

Poor little ignorant, fantastic chQd f Her petition 
was simply a succession of lines from the various 
hymns, and images the minister had used in his 
sermon, but she had her own way of recombining 
and applying these things, even of using them in a 
new connection, so that they had a curious e£fect 
of belonging to her. The words of some people 
might generally be written with a minus sig^ after 
them, the minus meaning that the personality of 
the speaker subtracted from, rather than added to, 
their weight ; but Rebecca's words might always 
have borne the plus sign. 

The ''Amen" said, she sat down, or presumed 
she sat down, on what she believed to be a bench^ 
and there was a benediction. In a moment or two^ 
when the room ceased spinning, she went up to 
Mrs. Burch, who kissed her affectionately and said, 
** My dear, how glad I am that we are going to stay 
with you. Will half past five be too late for us to 
come ? It is three now, and we have to go to the 
station for our valise and for our children. We left 
them there, being uncertain whether we should go 
back or stop here." 

Rebecca said that half past five was their supper 
hour, and then accepted an invitation to drive home 
with Mrs. Cobb. Her face was flushed and her lip 
quivered in a ^^ay that aunt Sarah had learned to 
know, so the homeward drive was taken almost in 
silence. The bleak wind and aunt Sarah's quieting 



190 



REBECCA 



presence brought her btck to herself, however, and 
she entered the brick house cheerily. Being too 
full of news to wait in the side entry to takeoff her 
rubber boots, she carefully lifted a braided rug into 
the sitting-room and stood on that while she opened 
her budget 

''There are your shoes wanning by the fire^** 
said aunt Jane ''Slip them rj(^t on while yoa talk."* 



XIX 

DEACON ISRAEL'S SUCCESSOR 

r* was a very small meetings aunt Miranda*** 
began Rebecca, *' and the missionary and his 
wife are lovely people, and they are coming 
here to stay all night and to-morrow with you. I 
hope you won't mind." 

** Coming here I " exclaimed Miranda, letting her 
knitting fall in her lap, and taking her spectacles 
o£f, as she always did in moments of extreme ex- 
citement. " Did they invite themselves ? " 

" No," Rebecca answered " I had to invite them 
for you ; but I thought you 'd like to have such in- 
teresting company. It was this way " — 

"Stop your cxplainin', and tell me first when 
they '11 be here. Right away > " 

" No, not for two hours — about half past five." 

" Then you can explain, if you can, who g^ve you 
any authority to invite a passel of strangers to stop 
here over night, when you know we ain't had any 
company for twenty years, and don't intend to have 
any for another twenty, — or at any rate while I *m 
the head of the house." 

*' Don't blame her, Miranda, till you 've heard 
her story," said Jane. " It ^-as in my mind right 
along, if we went to the meeting, some such thing 



192 REBECCA 

might happen, on account of Mr. Burch knowing 
father." 

'' The meeting was a small one/' b^^ Rebecca. 
<<I gave all your messages, and everybody was 
disappointed you could n't come, for the president 
was n't there, and Mrs. Matthews took the chair, which 
was a pity, for the seat was n't nearly big enough for 
her, and she reminded me of a line in a hymn we 
sang, ' Wide as the heathen nations are,' and she 
wore that kind of a beaver garden-hat that always 
gets on one side. And Mr. Burch talked beautifully 
about the Syrian heathen, and the singing went 
real well, and there looked to be about forty cents 
in the basket that was passed on our side. And 
that would n't save even a heathen baby, would it ? 
Then Mr. Burch said, if any sister would offer 
entertainment, they would pass the night, and have 
a parlor meeting in Riverboro to-morrow, with Mrs. 
Burch in Syrian costume, and lovely foreign things 
to show. Then he waited and waited, and nobody 
said a word. I was so mortified I did n*t know what 
to do. And then he repeated what he said, and ex- 
plained why he wanted to stay, and you could see 
he thought it was his duty. Just then Mrs. Rob- 
inson whispered to me and said the missionaries 
always used to go to the brick house when grand- 
father was alive, and that he never would let them 
sleep anyv^'here else. I did n't know you had stopped 
having them, because no traveling ministers havo 



REBECCA 193 

been here, except just for a Sunday morning, since 
I came to Riverboro. So I thought I ought to in- 
vite them, as you were n't there to do it for yourself, 
and you told me to represent the family." 

" What did you do — go up and introduce your- 
self as folks was goin' out ? " 

'* No ; I stood right up in meeting. I had to, for 
Mr. Burch's feelings were getting hurt at nobody's 
speaking. So I said, * My aunts, Miss Miranda and 
Miss Jane Sawyer, would be happy to have you 
visit at the brick house, just as the missionaries 
always did when their father was alive, and they 
sent their respects by me.' Then I sat down ; and 
Mr. Burch prayed for grandfather and called him a 
man of God, and thanked our Heavenly Father that 
his spirit was still alive in his descendants (that was 
you), and that the good old house where so many 
of the brethren had been cheered and helped, and 
from which so many had gone out strengthened for 
the fight, was still hospitably open for the stranger 
and wayfarer." 

Sometimes, when the heavenly bodies are in 
just the right conjunction, nature seems to be the 
most perfect art. The word or the deed coming 
straight from the heart, without any thought of 
effect, seems inspired. 

A certain gateway in Miranda Saw}'er's soul had 
been closed for years ; not all at once had it been 
done, but gradually, and without her full knowledge 



194 



REBECCA 



If Rebecca bad plotted for days, and with the u 
cunning, she could not have effected an entrance 
into that forbidden country, and now, unknown to 
both of them, the gate swung on its stiff and rusty 
hinges, and the favoring wind of opportunity opened 
it wider and wider as time went on. All things had 
worked together amazingly for good. The mem- 
ory of old days had been evoked, and the dally life 
of a pious and venerated father called to mind ; 
the Sawyer name had been publicly dignified and 
praised ; Rebecca had comported herself as the 
granddaughter of Deacon Israel Sawyer should. ax>d 
showed conclusively that she was not "all Ran- 
dall," as had been supposed. Miranda was rather 
mollified by and pleased with Ihe turn of events, 
although she did not intend to show it, or give any- 
body any reason to expect that this expression of 
hospitality was to serve for a precedent on any sub- 
sequent occasion. 

" Well, I sec you did only what you was obliged 
to do, Rebecca," she said, " and you worded your 
invitation as nice as anybody could have done. I 
wish your aunt Jane and me was n't both so worth- 
less with these colds ; but it only shows the good 
of havin' a clean house, with every room in order, 
whether open or shut, and enough victuals cooked 
so 'I you can't bo surprised and belittled by any- 
body, whatever happens. There was half a dozen 
there that might have entertained tbe Burcbcs aa 



s 



-m^ 



REBECCA 195 

easy as not, if they had n't V been too mean 
or lazy. Why did n't your missionaries come right 
along with you ? " 

** They had to go to the station for their valise 
and their children." 

" Are there children ? " groaned Miranda. 

''YeSy aunt Miranda, all bom under Syrian 
skies." 

** Syrian grandmother I " ejaculated Miranda (and 
it was not a fact). " How many ? " 

** I did n't think to ask ; but I will get two rooms 
ready, and if there are any over I '11 take 'em into 
my bed," said Rebecca, secretly hoping that this 
would be the case. ** Now, as you 're both half sick, 
could n't you trust me just once to get ready for the 
company? You can come up when I call Will 
you ? " 

"I believe I will," sighed Miranda reluctantly. 
" I '11 lay down side o' Jane in our bedroom and see 
if I can get strength to cook supper. It 's half past 
three — don't you let me lay a minute past five. I 
kep' a good fire in the kitchen stove. I don't know, 
I 'm sure, why I should have baked a pot o' beans 
in the middle of the week, but they'll come in 
handy. Father used to say there was nothing that 
went right to the spot with returned missionaries 
like pork 'n' beans 'n' brown bread. Fix up the two 
south chambers, Rebecca." 

Rebecca, given a free hand for the only time in her 



196 REBECCA 



life» dashed upstairs like a whirlwind. Every room 
in the brick house was as neat as wax, and she had 
only to pull up the shades, go over the floors with 
a whisk broom, and dust the furniture. The aunts 
could hear her sciurying to and fro, beating up 
pillows and feather beds, flaj^ing towds, jingling 
crockery, singing meanwhile in her clear voice : — 

" In Tiln with UTteh kindneM 
The gifti of God are ttrown ; 
The hinthfn in hit blindooi 
Bowt down to wood and stone." 

She had grown to be a handy little creature, and 
tasks she was capable of doing at all she did like 
a flash, so that when she called her aunts at Ave 
o'clock to pass judgment, she had accomplished 
wonders. There were fresh towels on bureaus and 
washstands, the beds were fair and smooth, the 
pitchers were filled, and soap and matches were 
laid out ; newspaper, kindling, and wood were in the 
boxes, and a large stick burned slowly in each air- 
tight stove. " I thought I 'd better just take the 
chill off," she explained, "as they're right from 
Syria ; and that reminds me, I must look it up in 
the geography before they get here," 

There was nothing to disapprove, so the two sis- 
ters went downstairs to make some slight changes 
in their dress. As they passed the parlor door Mi- 
randa thought she heard a crackle and looked in. 
The shades were up, there was a cheerful blaze in 



REBECCA 197 

the open stove in the front parlor, and a fire laid 
on the hearth in the back room. Rebecca's own 
lamp, her second Christmas present from Mr. Alad> 
din, stood on a marble-topped table in the comer, 
the light that came softly through its rose-colored 
shade transforming the stiff and gloomy ugliness of 
the room into a place where one could sit and love 
one's neighbor. 

"For massy's sake, Rebecca," called Miss Mi- 
randa up the stairs, ** did you think we 'd better 
open the parlor ? " 

Rebecca came out on the landing braiding her 
hair. 

** We did on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I 
thought this was about as gp'eat an occasion," she 
said " I moved the wax flowers off the mantelpiece 
so they would n't melt, and put the shells, the coral, 
and the green stuffed bird on top of the what-not, 
so the children would n't ask to play with them. 
Brother Milliken *s coming over to see Mr. Burch 
about business, and I should n't wonder if Brother 
and Sister Cobb happened in. Don't go down eel* 
lar, I *11 be there in a minute to do the running." 

Miranda and Jane exchanged glances. 

" Ain't she the beatin'est creetur that ever was 
bom int' the world ! " exclaimed Miranda; ''but she 
can tum off work when she 's got a mind to ! " 

At quarter past five everything was ready, and 
the neighbors, those at least who were within sight 



198 



REBECCA 



of the brick house (a prominent object in the land- 
scape when there were no leaves on the trees), 
were curious almost to desperation. Shades up in 
both parlors ! Shades up in the two south bed- 
rooms I And firea — if human \'isioii was to be re- 
lied on — fires in about every room. If it had not 
been for the kind offices of a lady who had been at 
the meeting, and who charitably called in at one or 
two houses and explained the reason of all this pre- 
paration, there would have been no sleep in many 
families. 

The missionary party arrived promptly, and there 
were but two children, seven or eight having been 
left with the brethren in Portland, to diminish trav- 
eling expenses. Jane escorted them all upstain, 
while Miranda watched the cooking of the supper ; 
but Rebecca promptly took the two little girls away 
from their mother, divested them of their wraps, 
smoothed their hair, and brought them down to the 
kitchen to smell the beans. 

There was a bountiful supper, and the presence 
of the young people robbed it of all possible itiff- 
ness. Aunt Jane helped clear the table and put 
away the food, while Miranda entertained in the par- 
lor; but Rebecca and the infant Burches washed 
the dishes and held high carnival in the Idtchen. 
doing only trifling damage — breaking a cup and 
plate that had been cracked before, emptying a sil- 
ver spoon with some dishwater out of the bock door 



REBECCA 199 

(an act never permitted at the brick bouse), and 
putting coffee gp-ounds in the sink. All evidences 
of crime having been removed by Rebecca, and dam- 
ages repaired in all possible cases, the three entered 
the parlor, where Mr. and Mrs. Cobb and Deacon 
and Mrs. Millikcn had already appeared. 

It was such a pleasant evening! Occasionally 
they left the heathen in his blindness bowing down 
to ^ood and stone, not for long, but just to g^ve 
themselves (and him) time enough to breathe, and 
then the Burches told strange, beautiful, marvelous 
taings. The two smaller children sang together, 
and Rebecca, at the urgent request of Mrs. Burch, 
seated herself at the tinkling old piano and gave 
" Wild roved an Indian girl, bright Alfarata " with 
considerable spirit and style. 

At eight o'clock she crossed the room, handed a 
palm-leaf fan to her aunt Miranda, ostensibly that 
she might shade her eyes from the lamplight ; but 
it was a piece of strategy that gave her an oppor- 
tunity to whisper, " How about cookies ?*' 

" Do you think it 's worth while ? " sibilated Miss 
Miranda in answer. 

"The Perkinses always do." 

"All right. You know where they be:" 

Rebecca moved quietly towards the door, and the 

young Burches cataractcd after her as if they could 

not bear a second's separation. In five minutes 

they returned, the little ones bearing plates of thin 



aoo REBECCA 

caraway wafers, — hearts, diamonds, and circles 
daintily sugared, and flecked with caraway seed 
nused in the garden behind the house. These were 
a specialty of Miss Jane's, and Rebecca carried a 
tray with six tiny crystal glasses filled with dandelion 
wine, for which Miss Miranda had been famous in 
years gone by. Old Deacon Israel had always had 
it passed, and he had bought the glasses himself 
in Boston. Miranda admired them greatly, not only 
for their beauty but because they held so little. Be- 
fore their advent the dandelion wine had been served 
in sherry glasses. 

As soon as these refreshments — commonly 
called a " cohtion " in Riverboro — had been gen- 
teelly partaken of, Rebecca looked at the clock, rose 
from her chair in the children's comer, and said 
cheerfully, "Come! time for little missionaries to 
be in bed!" 

Everybody laughed at this, the big missionaries 
most of all, as the young people shook hands and 
disappeared with Rebecca. 



XX 

A CHANGE OF HEART 

THAT niece of yours is the most remark- 
able girl I have seen in years/' said Mr. 
Burch when the door closed. 

*' She seems to be tumin' out smart enough lately, 
but she 's consid'able heedless/' answered Miranda, 
"an* most too lively/' 

** We must remember that it is deficient, not ex- 
cessive vitality, that makes the gp-eatest trouble in 
this world/' returned Mr. Burch. 

" She 'd make a wonderful missionary/' said Mrs. 
Burch ; " with her voice, and her magnetism, and her 
gift of language." 

** If I was to say which of the two she was best 
adapted for, I 'd say she 'd make a better heathen," 
remarked Miranda curtly. 

" My sister don't believe in flattering children/* 
hastily interpolated Jane, glancing toward Mrs. 
Burch, who seemed somewhat shocked, and was 
about to open her lips to ask if Rebecca was not 
a "professor." 

Mrs. Cobb had been looking for this question all 
the evening and dreading some allusion to her f^ 
vorite as gifted in prayer. She had taken an instan* 
taneous and illogical dislike to the Rev. Mr. Burcb 



202 REBECCA 

in the afternoon because he called upon Rebecca 
to 'Mead" She had seen the pallor creep into the 
girl's face, the hunted look in her eyes, and the 
trembling of the lashes on her cheeks, and realized 
the ordeal through which she was passing. Her 
prejudice against the minister had relaxed under hb 
genial talk and presence, but feeling that Mrs. 
Burch was about to tread on dangerous ground, she 
hastUy asked her if one had to change cars many 
times going from Riverboro to Syria. She felt that 
it was not a particularly appropriate question, but it 
served her turn. 

Deacon MUliken, meantime, said to Miss Sawyer, 
** Mirandy, do you know who Rebecky reminds me 
of?" 

" I can guess pretty well/' she replied. 

" Then you 've noticed it too I I thought at first, 
seein' she favored her father so on the outside, that 
she was the same all through ; but she ain't, she 's 
like your father, Israel Sawyer." 

'' I don't see how you make that out," said Mi* 
randa, thoroughly astonished. 

** It struck mc this afternoon when she got up 
to give your invitation in meetin*. It was kind o' 
cur'ous, but she set in the same seat he used to 
when he was leader o* the Sabbath-school. You 
know his olu way of holdin' his chin up and throwin* 
his head back a lectle when he got up to say any* 
thing ? Well, she done the v^ry same thing ; there 
was more 'n one spoke of it." 



REBECCA 203 

The callers left before nine» and at that hour (an 
impossibly dissipated one for the brick house) the 
family retired for the night. As Rebecca carried 
Mrs. Burch's candle upstairs and found herself 
thus alone with her for a minute, she said shyly, 
" Will you please tell Mr. Burch that I 'm not a 
member of the church ? I did n*t know what to do 
when he asked me to pray this afternoon. I had n't 
the courage to say I had never done it out loud 
and didn't know how. I couldn't think; and I was 
so frightened I wanted to sink into the floor. It 
seemed bold and wicked for me to pray before all 
those old church members and make believe I was 
better than I really was ; but then again, would n't 
God think I was wicked not to be willing to pray 
when a minister asked me to i " 

The candle light fell on Rebecca's flushed, sensi- 
tive face. Mrs. Burch bent and kissed her good* 
night " Don't be troubled," she said " I '11 tell 
Mr. Burch, and I guess God will understand." 

Rebecca waked before six the next morning, so 
full of household cares that sleep was impossible. 
She went to the window and looked out; it was 
still dark, and a blustering, boisterous day. 

*' Aunt Jane told me she should get up at half 
past six and have breakfast at half past se\'en," she 
thought ; " but I daresay they are both sick with 
their colds, and aunt Miranda will be fidgety with 



204 REBECCA 

80 many in the house. I believe I 'U creep down 
and start things for a surprise." 

She put on a wadded wrapper and slippers and 
stole quietly down the tabooed front stairs, care- 
fully closed the kitchen door behind her so that no 
noise should waken the rest of the household* busied 
herself for a half hour with the early morning routine 
she knew so well, and then went back to her room 
to dress before calling the children. 

Contrary to expectation, Miss Jane, who the 
evening before felt better than Miranda, grew worse 
in the night, and was wholly unable to leave her bed 
in the morning. Miranda grumbled without ceasing 
during the progress of her hasty toilet, blaming 
everybody in the universe for the afflictions she had 
borne and was to bear during the day ; she even 
castigated the Missionary Board that had sent the 
Burches to Syria, and gave it as her unbiased opinion 
that those who went to foreign lands for the pur- 
pose of saving heathen should stay there and save 
'cm, and not go gallivantin* all over the earth with 
a passel o' children, visitin* folks that did n*t want 
'em and never asked 'em. 

Jane lay anxiously and restlessly in bed with a 
feverish headache, wondering how her sister could 
manage without her. 

Miranda walked stiffly through the dining-room, 
tying a shawl over her head to keep the draughts 
away, intending to start the breakfast fire and then 



REBECCA 305 

call Rebecca down, set ber to work, and tell ber, 
meanwhile, a few plain facts concerning the proper 
way of representing the family at a missionary 
meeting. 

She opened the kitchen door and stared vaguely 
about her, wondering whether she bad strayed into 
the wrong house by mistake. 

The shades were up, and there was a roaring fire 
in the stove ; the teakettle was singing and bub- 
bling as it sent out a cloud of steam, and pushed 
over its capacious nose was a half sheet of note 
paper with ''Compliments of Rebecca" scrawled 
on it. The coffee pot was scalding, the coffee was 
measured out in a bowl, and broken eggshells for 
the settling process were standing near. The cold 
potatoes and corned beef were in the wooden tray, 
and '* Regards of Rebecca " stUwk on the chopping 
knife. The brown loaf was out, the white loaf was 
out, the toast rack was out, the doughnuts were out, 
the milk was skimmed, the butter had been brought 
from the dairy. 

Miranda removed the shawl from her head and 
sank into the kitchen rocker, ejacubting under her 
breath, ** She is the beatin'est child ! I declare she *s 
all Sawyer ! ** 

The day and the evening passed off with credit 
and honor to everybody concerned, even to Jane^ 
who had the discretion to recover instead of grow- 
ing worse and acting as a damper to the general 



206 REBECCA 

enjoyment The Burches left with lively regrets, 
and the little missionaries, bathed in tears, swore 
eternal friendship with Rebecca, who pressed into 
their hands at parting a poem composed before 
breakfast 

,TO MARY AND MARTHA BURCH . 

Bom under Syrian tkiet, 

Tieath hotter sons than oon; 
The children grew and bloomed, 

like little tropic flowers. 

When thej fint aaw the light, 

n* was in a heathen land. 
Not Greenland's icy mountains. 

Nor India's coral strand. 

Bat some mysteriovis country 

Where men are nearly black 
And where of true religion. 

There is a painful lack. 

Then let us haste in helping 

The Missionary Board, 
Seek dark-skinned unbelieTers, 

And teach them of their Lord. 

RlBICCA ROWKNA RaNDALI. 

It can readily be seen that this visit of the re^ 
turned missionaries to Rivcrboro was not without 
somewhat far-reaching results. Mr. and Mrs. Burch 
themselves looked back upon it as one of the rarest 
pleasures of their half year at home. The neigh- 
borhood extracted considerable eager conversation 
from it ; argument, rebuttal, suspicion, certainty. 



REBECCA 907 

retrospect, and prophecy. Deacon Milliken gave ten 
dollars tonnNs the conversjpn of Syria to Congre- 
gationalism, and Mrs. Milliken had a spell of sick* 
ness over her husband's rash generosity. 

It would be pleasant to state that Miranda Saw- 
yer was an entirely changed woman afterwards, but 
that is not the fact. The tree that has been getting 
a twist for twenty years cannot be straightened 
in the twinkling of an eye. It is certain, however, 
that although the di£ference to the outward eye 
was very small, it nevertheless existed, and she was 
less censorious in her treatment of Rebecca, lest 
harsh in her judgments, more hopeful of final sal- 
vation for her. This had come about largely from 
her sudden vision that Rebecca, after all, inherited 
something from the Sawyer side of the house instead 
of belonging, mind, body, and soul, to the despised 
Randall stock. Ever}'thing that was interesting in 
Rebecca, and every evidence of power, capability, 
or talent afterwards displayed by her, Miranda as- 
cribed to the brick house training, and this gave 
her a feeling of honest pride, the pride of a master 
workman who has built success out of the most 
unpromising material ; but ne\'er, to the very end, 
c\xn when the waning of her bodily strength relaxed 
her iron grip and weakened her power of repres- 
sion, ne\'er once did she show that pride or make a 
single demonstration of affection. 

Pbor misplaced, belittled Lorenio de Medici Ran* 



908 



REBECCA 



dall, thought ridiculous and good^fonnaught by his 
associates, because he resembled them in nothing t 
If Riverboro could have been suddenly emptied into 
a larger community, with diifcrent and more flexible 
opinions, he was, perhaps, the only personage ia 
the entire population who would have attracted the 
smallest attention. It was fortunate for his daugh- 
ter that she had been dowered with a little practi- 
cal ability from her mother's family, but if Lorenzo 
had never done anything else in the world, he mtfcht 
havcglorified himself that he had prevented Rebecca 
from being all Sawyer. Failure as he was, complete 
and entire, he had generously handed down to her 
all that was best in himself, and prudently retained 
all that wail unworthy. Few fathers are capable of 
such delicate discrimination. 

The bricic house did not speedily become a sort 
of wayside inn, a place of innocent revelry and joy- 
ous welcome; but the missionary company was an 
entering wedge, and Miranda allowed one spore bed 
to be made up "in case anything should happen," 
while the crystal glasses were kept on the second 
from the top, instead of the top shelf, in the china 
closet. Rebecca had had to stand on a chair to reach 
them ; now she could do it by stretching ; and this 
is symbolic of the way in which she unconsciouily 
scaled the walb of Miss Miranda's dogmatism and 
prejudice. 

Miranda went so far as to say that she would n't 



J 



REBECCA 309 

mind if the Burches came every once in a while, but 
she was afraid he 'd spread abroad the fact of his 
visit, and missionaries' families would be underfoot 
the whole continual time. As a case in point, she 
gracefully cited the fact that if a tramp got a good 
meal at anybody's back door, 't was said that he 'd 
leave some kind of a sign so that all other tramps 
would know where they were likely to receive the 
same treatment 

It is to be feared that there is some truth in this 
homely illustration, and Miss Miranda's dread as 
to her future responsibilities had some foundation, 
though not of the precise sort she had in mind 
The soul grows into lovely habits as easily as into 
ugly ones, and the moment a life begins to blossom 
into beautiful words and deeds, that moment a new 
standard of conduct is established, and your eager 
neighbors look to you for a continuous manifestation 
of the good cheer, the s)'mpathy, the ready wit, the 
comradeship, or the inspiration, you once showed 
yourself capable of. Bear figs for a season or two, 
and the world outside the orchard is very unwilling 
you should bear thistles. 

The effect of the Burches' visit on Rebecca is not 
easily described Nevertheless, as she looked back 
upon it from the vantage ground of after years, she 
felt that the moment when Mr. Burch asked her to 
" lead in prayer " marked an epoch in her life. 

If you have ever observed how courteous and 



2IO REBECCA 

gracious and mannerly you feel when you don m 
beautiful new frock ; if you have ever noticed the 
feeling of reverence stealing over you when you 
close your eyes, clasp your hands, and bow your 
head ; if you have ever watched your sense of re- 
pulsion toward a feUow creature melt a little under 
the exercise of daily politeness, you may understand 
how the adoption of the outward and visible sign 
has some strange influence in developing the inward 
and spiritual state of which it is the expression. 

It is only when one has grown old and dull that 
the soul is heavy and refuses to rise. The young 
soul is ever wingM ; a breath stirs it to an upward 
flight Rebecca was asked to bear witness to a 
state of mind or feeling of whose existence she had 
only the vaguest consciousness. She obeyed, and as 
she uttered words they became true in the uttering ; 
as she voiced aspirations they settled into realities. 

As "dove that to its window flies," her spirit 
soared towards a great light, dimly discovered at 
first, but brighter as she came closer to it To 
become sensible of oneness with the Divine heart 
before any sense of separation has been felt, this is 
surely the most beautiful way for the child to find 
God 



XXI 

THE SKY LINE WIDENS 

TIE time to long and eagerly waited for 
had come, and Rebecca was a student at 
Wareham. Persons who had enjoyed the 
social bewilderments and advantages of foreign 
courts, or had mingled freely in the intellectual 
circles of great universities, might not have looked 
upon Wareham as an extraordinary experience; 
but it was as much of an advance upon Riverboro 
as that village had been upon Sunnybrook Fann. 
Rebecca's intention was to complete the four 
years' course in three, as it was felt by all the par- 
ties concerned that when she had attained the ripe 
age of seventeen she must be ready to earn her 
own living and help in the education of the younger 
children. Wliile she was wondering how this could 
be successfully accomplished, some of the other 
girls were cogitating as to how they could meander 
through the four years and come out at the end 
knowing no more than at the beginning. This 
would seem a difficult, well-nigh an impossible task, 
but it can be achieved, and has been, at other seats 
of learning than modest little Wareham. 

Rebecca was to go to and fro on the cars daily 
from September to Christmas, and then board in 



ata REBECCA 

Warebam during the three coldest months. Emma 
Jane's parents had always thought that a year or 
two in the Edgcwood high school (three mile* Iroin 
Rivcrboro) would serve every purpose for their 
daughter and send her into the world with as fine 
an intellectual polish as she could well sustain. 
Emma Jane had hitherto heartily concurred in 
this opinion, for if there was any one thing that 
she detested it was the learning of lessons. One 
book was as bad as another in her eyes, and she 
could have seen the libraries of the world sinking 
into ocean depths and have eaten her dinner cheer- 
fully the while; but matters assumed a diEFercnt 
complexion when she was sent to Edgewood and 
Rebecca to Wareham. She bore it for a week — 
seven endless days of absence from the beloved 
object, whom she could see only in the creninga 
when both were busy with their lessons. Sunday 
offered an opportunity to put the matter before 
her father, who proved obdurate. He didn't be- 
lieve in education and thought she had full enough 
already, lie never intended to keep tip "black- 
smithing " for good when he leased his farm and 
came into Riverboro, but proposed to go bock to 
it presently, and by that time Emma Jane would 
have finished school and would be ready to help 
her mother with the dairy work. 

Another week passed. Emma Jane pined visi> 
bly and audibly. Her color faded, and bcr sppetit« 
(It Uble^ dwindled almost to nothing. 



REBECCA 313 

Her mother alluded plaintively to the {act that 
the Perkinses had a habit of going into declines ; 
that she 'd always feared that Emma Jane's com- 
plexion was too beautiful to be healthy ; that some 
men would be proud of having an ambitious daugh- 
ter, and be glad to give her the best advantages ; 
that she feared the daily journeys to Edgcwood 
were going to be too much for her own health, 
and Mr. Perkins would have to hire a boy to drive 
Emma Jane ; and finally that when a girl had such 
a passion for learning as Emma Jane, it seemed 
almost like wickedness to cross her will. 

Mr. Perkins bore this for several days until his 
temper, digestion, and appetite were all sensibly 
affected ; then he bowed his head to the inevitable, 
and Emma Jane flew, like a captive set free, to the 
loved one's bower. Neither did her courage flag, 
although it was put to terrific tests when she entered 
the academic groves of Wareham. She passed in 
only two subjects, but went cheerfully into the 
preparatory department with her five "conditions,** 
intending to let the stream of education play gently 
over her mental surfaces and not get any wetter than 
she could help. It is not possible to blink the truth 
that Emma Jane u-as dull ; but a dogged, unswerv- 
ing loyalty, and the gift of devoted, unselfish lov- 
ing, these, after all, are talents of a sort, and may 
possibly be of as much value in the world as a sense 
of numbers or a faculty for languages. 




REBECCA 



Wareham was a pretty village with a brtad raain 
street shaded by great maples and elms. It had an 
apothecary, a. bladcsmith, a plumber, several shops 
of one sort and aoother, two churches, and many 
boarding-houses ; but aU its interests gathered about 
its seminary and its academy. These scats of learn- 
ing were neither better nor worse than othen oC 
their kind, but differed much in efficiency, according 
as the principal who chanced to be at the head wai 
a man of power and inspiration or the m-ene. 
There were boys and girls gathered from all parts 
of the county and state, and they were of every 
kind and degree as to birth, position in the world, 
wealth or poverty. There was an opportunity for a 
deal of foolish and imprudent behavior, but on the 
whole surprisingly little ad%-antage was taken of it. 
Among the third and fourth year students tbera 
was a certain amount of going to and from the 
trains in couples ; some carr>-ing of heavy books 
up the hill by the sterner sex for their feminiae 
schoolmates, and occasional bursts of sillineu on 
the part of heedless and precocious girls, anMoy 
whom was Muldah Mcservc; She was friendly 
enough with Kmma Jane and Rebecca, but grew 
less and less intimate as time west on. She was 
extremely pretty, with a profusion of auburn hair, 
, and a few very tiny freckles, to whicfi she con- 
stantly alluded, as do one could possibly detect 
tbem without noting her porcelain tkin and bcr 



I 



REBECCA 315 

curling lasbes. She had merry eyes» a somewhat 
too plump figure for her years, and was popularly 
supposed to have a fascinating way with her. 
Riverboro being poorly furnished with beaux, she 
intended to have as good a time during her four 
years at Wareham as circumstances would permit 
Her idea of pleasure was an ever-changing circle 
of admirers to fetch and carry for her, the more 
publicly the better; incessant chaff and laughter 
and vivacious conversation, made eloquent and 
effective by arch looks and telling glances. She 
had a habit of confiding her conquests to less for- 
tunate girls and bewailing the incessant havoc and 
damage she was doing ; a damage she avowed her- 
self as innocent of» in intention, as any new-bom 
lamb. It does not take much of this sort of thing 
to wreck an ordinary friendship, so before long 
Rebecca and Emma Jane sat in one end of the 
lailway train in going to and from Riverboro, and 
Huldah occupied the other with her court Some- 
times this was brilliant beyond words, including 
a certain youthful Monte Cristo, who on Fridays 
expended thirty cents on a round trip ticket and 
traveled from Wareham to Riverboro merely to be 
near Huldah ; sometimes, too, the circle was reduced 
to the popcom-and-peanut boy of the train, who 
seemed to serve every purpose in default of better 
game. 
Rebecca was in the normally unconscious ttate 



2i6 REBECCA 

that belonged to her years ; boys were good com* 
rades, but no more ; she liked reciting in the same 
class with them, everything seemed to move better ; 
but from vulgar and precocious flirtations she was 
protected by her ideals. There was little in the 
lads she had met thus far to awaken her fancy, for 
it habitually fed on better meat Huldah's school- 
girl romances, with their wealth of commonplace 
detail, were not the stu£F her dreams were made of, 
when dreams did flutter across the sensitive plate of 
her mind 

Among the teachers at Wareham was one who 
influenced Rebecca profoundly, Miss Emily Max- 
well, with whom she studied English literature and 
composition. Miss Maxwell, as the niece of one 
of Maine's ex-govcmors and the daughter of one of 
Bowdoin's professors, was the most remarkable per- 
sonality in Wareham, and that her few years of 
teaching happened to be in Rebecca s time was the 
happiest of all chances. There was no indecision or 
delay in the establishment of their relations ; Re- 
becca's heart flew like an arrow to its mark, and 
her mind, meeting its superior, settled at once into 
an abiding attitude of respectful homage. 

It was rumored that Miss Maxwell " wrote," 
which word, when uttered in a certain tone, was 
understood to mean not that a person had command 
of penmanship. .Spenccrian or otherwise, but that 
she had appeared in print 



REBECCA 317 

** You *11 like her ; she writes,"* whispered Huldah 
to Rebecca the first morning at prayers, where the 
faculty sat in an imposing row on the front seats. 
** She writes ; and I call her stuck up." 

Nobody seemed possessed of exact information 
with which to satisfy the hungry mind, but there was 
believed to be at least one person in existence who 
had seen, with his own eyes, an essay by Miss Max- 
well in a mag^ine. This height of achievement 
made Rebecca somewhat shy of her, but she looked 
her admiration ; something that most of the class 
could never do with the unsatisfactory organs of 
vision given them by Mother Nature. Miss Max- 
well's glance was always meeting a pair of eager 
dark eyes ; when she said anything particularly 
good, she looked for approval to the corner of the 
second bench, where every shade of feeling she 
wished to evoke was reflected on a certain sensitive 
young face. 

One day, when the first essay of the class was 
under discussion, she asked each new pupil to bring 
her some composition written during the year before, 
that she might judge the work, and know precisely 
with what material she had to deal. Rebecca lin- 
gered after the others, and approached the desk 
shyly. 

^I haven't any compositions here. Miss Mair* 
well, but I can find one when I go home on Friday. 
They are packed away in a box in the attic." 



2i8 REBECCA 

"Carefully tied with pink and blue ribbons?* 
asked Miss Maxwell, with a whimsical smile. 

" No/' answered Rebecca, shaking her head de- 
cidedly ; ''I wanted to use ribbons, because all the 
other girls did, and they looked so pretty, but I 
used to tie my essays with twine strings on pur- 
pose ; and the one on solitude I fastened with an 
old shoelacing just to show it what I thought of 
it!" 

" Solitude ! " laughed Miss Maxwell, raising her 
eyebrows. " Did you choose your own subject ? " 

" No ; Miss Dearborn thought we were not old 
enough to find good ones." 

" What were some of the others ? " 

" Fireside Reveries, Grant as a Soldier, Reflec- 
tions on the Life of P. T. Bamum, Buried Cities ; 
I can't remember any more now. They were all bad, 
and I can't bear to show them ; I can write poetry 
easier and better. Miss Maxwell" 

" Poetry ! " she exclaimed. " Did Miss Dearborn 
require you to do it ? " 

" Oh, no ; I always did it even at the farm. Shall 
I bring all I have ? It is n't much." 

Rebecca took the blank-book in which she kept 
copies of her effusions and left it at Miss Maxwell's 
door, hoping that she might be asked in and thus 
obtain a private inter\'iew ; hut a scr\'ant answered 
her ring, and she could only walk away, disap- 
pointed. 



REBECCA 219 

A few days afterward she saw the black-covered 
book on Miss Maxwell's desk and knew that the 
dreaded moment of criticism had come, so she was 
not surprised to be asked to remain after class. 

The room was quiet ; the red leaves rustled in 
the breeze and flew in at the open window, bearing 
the first compliments of the season. Miss Maxwell 
came and sat by Rebecca's side on the bench. 

*' Did you think these were good ? " she asked, 
giving her the verses. 

" Not so very," confessed Rebecca ; " but it *s 
hard to tell all by yourself. The Perkinses and the 
Cobbs always said they were wonderful, but when 
Mrs. Cobb told me she thought they were better 
than Mr. Longfellow's I was worried, because I 
knew that could n't be true." 

This ingenuous remark confirmed Miss Maxwell's 
opinion of Rebecca as a girl who could hear the 
truth and profit by it. 

"Well, my child," she said smilingly, "your 
friends were wrong and you were right ; judged by 
the proper tests, they are pretty bad." 

"Then I must give up all hope of ever being a 
writer ! " sighed Rebecca, who was tasting the bit- 
terness of hemlock and wondering if she could 
keep the tears back until the inter\'iew was over. 

"Don't go so fast," interrupted Miss Maxwell 
"Though they don't amount to anything as poetry, 
they show a good deal of promise in certain direo- 



220 REBECCA 

tions. You almost never make a mistake in diyme 
or metre, and this shows you have a natural sense 
of what is right ; a ' sense of form/ poets would 
call it When you grow older, have a little more 
experience, — in fact, when you have something 
to say, I think you may write very good verses. 
Poetry needs knowledge and vision, experience and 
imagination, Rebecca. You have not the first three 
yet, but I rather think you have a touch of the last" 

"Must I never try any more poetry, not even 
to amuse myself ? " 

" Certainly you may ; it will only help you to 
write better prose. Now for the first composition. 
I am going to ask all the new students to write a 
letter giving some description of the town and a 
hint of the school life.** 

" Shall I have to be myself ? " asked Rebecca. 

** What do you mean ? " 

"A letter from Rebecca Randall to her sister 
Hannah at Sunnybrook Farm, or to her aunt Jane 
at the brick house, Riverboro, is so dull and stupid, 
if it is a real letter ; but if I could make believe I ^'as 
a different girl altogether, and write to somebody 
who would be sure to understand everything I said, 
I could make it nicer.** 

"Very well; I think that's a delightful plan." 
said Miss Maxwell; "and whom will you suppose 
yourself to be ? " 

^I like heiresses very much,** repUed Rebecca 



REBECCA 331 

contemplatively. " Of course I never saw one, but 
interesting things are always happening to heir- 
esses, especially to the golden-haired kind My 
heiress would n*t be vain and haughty like the 
wicked sisters in Cinderella; she would be noble 
and generous. She would give up a grand school 
in Boston because she wanted to come here where 
her father lived when he was a boy, long before he 
made his fortune. The father is dead now, and she 
has a guardian, the best and kindest man in the 
world ; he is rather old of course, and sometimes 
very quiet and grave, but sometimes when he is 
happy, he is full of fun, and then Evelyn is not afraid 
of him. Yes, the girl shall be called Evelyn Aber- 
crombie, and her guardian's name shaU be Mr. Adam 
Ladd." 

** Dtf you know Mr. Ladd ? " asked Miss Maxwell 
in surprise. 

" Yes, he *s my very best friend," cried Rebecca 
delightedly. " Do you know him too ? " 

" Oh, yes ; he is a trustee of these schools, you 
know, and often comes here. But if I let you ' sup- 
pose ' any more, you will tell me your whole letter 
and then I shall lose a pleasant surprise." 

What Rebecca thought of Miss Maxwell we 
already know ; how the teacher regarded the pupQ 
may be gathered from the following letter written 
two or three months later. 



233 REBECCA 

Warbham, December ttl. 

My dear Father, — As you well know, I have 
not always been an enthusiast on the subject of 
teaching. The task of cramming knowledge into 
these self-sufficient, inefficient youngsters of both 
sexes discourages me at times. The more stupid they 
are, the less they are aware of it If my department 
were geography or mathematics, I believe I should 
feel that I was accomplishing something, for in those 
branches application and industry work wonders; 
but in English literature and composition one yearns 
for brains, for appreciation, for imagination ! Month 
after month I toil on, opening oyster after oyster, 
but seldom finding a pearL Fancy my joy thb term 
when, without any violent eflfort at shell-splittings 
I came upon a rare pearl ; a black one, but of satiiir 
skin and beautiful lustre ! Her name is Rebecca, 
and she looks not unlike Rebekah at the Well in our 
family Bible ; her hair and eyes being so dark as 
to suggest a strain of Italian or Spanish blood She 
is nobody in particular. Man has done nothing for 
her ; she has no family to speak of, no money, no 
education worthy the name, has had no advantages 
of any sort ; but Dame Nature flung herself into 
the breach and said : — 

•* This child I to myself wUl t^e ; 
She shall be mine and I will make 
A Lady of my own.** 



REBECCA 223 

Blessed Wordsworth ! How he makes us under* 
stand ! And the pearl never heard of him until now I 
Think of reading Lucy to a chss, and when you 
finish, seeing a fourteen-year-old pair of lips quiver- 
ing with delight, and a pair of eyes brimming with 
comprehending tears ! 

You poor darling! You, too, know the dis- 
couragement of sowing lovely seed in rocky earth, 
in sand, in water, and (it almost seems sometimes) 
in mud ; knowing that if anything comes up at all 
it will be some poor starveling plant. Fancy the joy 
of finding a real mind ; of dropping seed in a soil 
so warm, so fertile, that one knows there are sure 
to be foliage, blossoms, and fruit all in good time I 
I wish I were not so impatient and so greedy of 
results ! I am not fit to be a teacher ; no one is 
who b so scornful of stupidity as I am. . . . The 
pearl writes quaint countrified little verses, dog- 
gerel they are ; but somehow or other she always 
contrives to put in one line, one thought, one image, 
that shows you she is, quite unconsciously to herself, 
in possession of the secret . . . Good-by ; I '11 bring 
Rebecca home with me some Friday, and let you 
and mother see her for yourselves. 

Your affectionate daughter, 

Emilt. 



XXII 

CLOVER BLOSSOMS AND SUNFLOWERS 

HOW d' ye do, girls ? '' said Huldah Me- 
serve, peeping in at the door. ^ Can you 
stop studying a minute and show me yo«ir 
room ? Say, I Ve just been down to the store 
and bought me these gloves, for I was bound I 
wouldn't wear mittens this winter; they're sim- 
ply too countrified. It 's your first year here, and 
you 're younger than I am, so I s'pose you don't 
mind, but I simply suffer if I don't keep up some 
kind of style. Say, your room b simply too cute for 
words ! I don't believe any of the others can b^n 
to compare with it ! I don't know what gives it that 
simply gorgeous look, whether it 's the full curtains, 
or that elegant screen, or Rebecca's lamp ; but you 
certainly do have a faculty for fixing up. I like a 
pretty room too, but I never have a minute to at- 
tend to mine ; I 'm always so busy on my clothes that 
half the time I don't get my bed made up till noon ; 
and after all, having no callers but the girls, it don't 
make much dififercnce. When I graduate, I 'm going 
to fix up our parlor at home so it '11 be simply regal 
I 've learned decalcomania, and after I take up lustre 
painting I shall have it simply stifif with drapes and 
tidies and placques and sofa pillows, and make ma» 



REBECCA 225 

ther let me have a fire, and receive my friends there 
evenings. May I dry my feet at your register ? I 
can't bear to wear rubbers unless the mud or the 
slush b simply knee-deep, they make your feet look 
so awfully big. I had such a fuss getting this pair 
of French-heeled boots that I don't intend to spoil 
the looks of them with rubbers any of tener than I 
can help. I believe boys notice feet quicker than 
anything. Elmer Webster stepped on one of mine 
yesterday when I accidentally had it out in the 
aisle, and when he apologized after class, he said he 
was n't so much to blame, for the foot was so little 
he really could n't see it ! Is n't he perfectly great f 
Of course that 's only his way of talking, for after 
all I only wear a number two, but these French 
heels and pointed toes do certainly make your foot 
look smaller, and it 's always said a high instep helps, 
toa I used to think mine was almost a deformity, 
but they say it 's a great beauty. Just put your feet 
beside mine, girls, and look at the difference ; not 
that I care much, but just for fun." 

" My feet are very comfortable where they are,** 
responded Rebecca dryly. '' I can't stop to measure 
insteps on algebra days ; I 've noticed your habit 
of keeping a foot in the aisle ever since you had 
those new shoes, so I don't wonder it was stepped 



on." 



" Perhaps I am a little mite conscious of them, 
because they 're not so very comfortable at fint,tiU 



226 REBECCA 

you get them broken in. Say, have n't you got a 
lot of new things ? " 

'' Our Christmas presents, you mean/' said Emma 
Jane. "The pillow-cases are from Mrs. Cobb, the 
rug from cousin Mary in North Riverboro, the 
scrap-basket from Living and Dick. We gave each 
other the bureau and cushion covers, and the screen 
b mine from Mr. Ladd." 

"Well, you were lucky when you met himt 
Gracious ! I wish I could meet somebody like that 
The way he keeps it up, too I It just hides your 
bed, does n't it, and I always say that a bed takes 
the style off any room — specially when it 's not 
made up ; though you have an alcove, and it 's the 
only one in the whole building. I don't see how 
you managed to get this good room when you *re 
such new scholars," she finished discontentedly. 

" We should n't have, except that Ruth Berry 
had to go away suddenly on account of her father's 
death. This room was empty, and Miss Maxwell 
asked if we might have it," returned Emma Jane. 

" The great and only Max is more stiff and stand- 
offish than ever this year," said Huldah. "I've 
simply given up tr)'ing to please her, for there 's 
no justice in her; she is good to her favorites, but 
she does n't pay the least attention to anybody else, 
except to make sarcastic speeches about things 
that are none of her business. I wanted to tell her 
yesterday it Vi'os her place to teach me Latin, not 
manners." 



REBECCA 227 

*' I wish you would n't talk against Miss Maxwell 
to me/' said Rebecca hotly. *'You know how I 
feel." 

'* I know ; but I can't understand how you can 
abide her." 

"I not only abidc» I love her!" exclaimed Re* 
becca. '' I would n't let the sun shine too hot on 
her, or the wind blow too cold. I 'd like to put a 
marble platform in her class-room and have her sit 
in a velvet chair behind a golden table ! " 

••Well, don't have a fit! — because she can sit 
where she likes for all of me ; I 've got something 
better to think of," and Huldah tossed her head. 

*• Is n*t this your study hour ? " asked Emma 
Jane, to stop possible discussion. 

••Yes, but I lost my Latin grammar yesterday; 
I left it in the hall half an hour while I was having 
a regular scene with Herbert Dunn. I haven't 
spoken to him for a week and gave him back his 
class pin. He was simply furious. Then when I 
came back to the hall, the book was gone. I had 
to go down town for my gloves and to the princi- 
pal's office to sec if the grammar had been handed 
in, and that 's the reason I 'm so fine." 

Huldah was wearing a woolen dress that had 
once been gray, but had been dyed a brilliant blue. 
She had added three rows of white braid and large 
white pearl buttons to her gray jacket, in order to 
make it a little more "dressy." Her gray felt bat 



228 REBECCA 

had a white feather on it, and a white tissue veil 
with large black dots made her delicate skin look 
brilliant. Rebecca thought how lovely the knot of 
red hair looked under the hat behind, and how the 
color of the front had been dulled by incessant 
frizzing with curling irons. Her open jacket dis- 
closed a galaxy of souvenirs pinned to the back- 
ground of bright blue, — a small American flag» a 
button of the Wareham Rowing Club, and one or 
two society pins. These decorations proved her 
popularity in very much the same way as do the 
cotillion favors hanging on the bedroom walls of 
the fashionable belle. She had been pinning and 
unpinning, arranging and disarranging her veil 
ever since she entered the room, in the hope that 
the girls would ask her whose ring she was wearing 
this week ; but although both had noticed the new 
ornament instantly, wild horses could not have 
drawn the question from them ; her desire to be 
asked was too obvious. With her gay plumage, 
her '* nods and becks and wreathed smiles," and her 
cheerful cackle, Huldah closely resembled the par- 
rot in Wordsworth's poem : — 

" Arch, Tolatile, a tportiTc bird, 
B J social glee inspired ; 
Ambitions to be seen or heard. 
And pleased to be admired I ** 

" Mr. Morrison thinks the grammar will be re- 
turned, and lent me another," Huldah continued. 



REBECCA 229 

*' He was rather snippy about my leaving a book in 
the halL There was a perfectly elegant gentleman 
in the office, a stranger to me. I wish he was a new 
teacher, but there's no such luck. He was too 
young to be the father of any of the g^rls, and too 
old to be a brother, but he was handsome as a pic* 
ture and had on an awful stylish suit of clothes. 
He looked at me about every minute I was in the 
room. It made me so embarrassed I could n't hardly 
answer Mr. Morrison's questions straight" 

''You'll have to wear a mask pretty soon, if 
you're going to have any comfort, Huldah," said 
Rebecca. " Did he ofifer to lend you his class pin, 
or has it been so long since he graduated that he 's 
left off wearing it ? And tell us now whether the 
principal asked for a lock of your hair to put in his 
watch ? " 

This was all said merrily and laughingly, but 
there were times when Huldah could scarcely make 
up her mind whether Rebecca was trying to be 
witty, or whether she was jealous ; but she gen* 
erally decided it was merely the latter feelings 
rather natural in a girl who had little attention. 

'' He wore no jewelry but a cameo scarf pin and 
a perfectly gorgeous ring, — a queer kind of one 
that wound round and round his finger. Oh dear, 
I must run ! Where has the hour gone ? There 's 
the study bell ! " 

Rebecca had pricked up her ears at Huldah's 



ayo 



REBECCA 



speech. She remembered a certain strange rinf^ 
and it belonged to the only person in the world (save 
Miss Maxwell) who appealed to her imagination, — » 
Mr. Aladdin. Her feeling for him, and that of Emma 
Jane, was a mixture of romantic and reverent ad- 
miration (oi the man himself and the liveliest grati- 
tude for his beautiful gifts. Since they first met htm 
not a Christmas had gone by without some rcmcnw 
brance for them both ; remembrances chosen with 
the rarest taste and forethought. Kmma Jane bad 
seen him only twice, but he had called several times 
at the brick house, and Rebecca had learned to 
know him better. It was she, too, who always wrote 
the notes of acknowledgment and thanks, taking 
infinite pains to make Emma Jane's quite different 
from her own. Sometimes he had written from 
Boston and asked her the news of Riverboro, and 
she had sent him pages of quaint and childlike g09> 
sip, interspersed, on two occasions, with poetry, 
which he read and reread with infinite relish. If 
I Huldah*s stninger should be Mr Aladdin, would b« 
come to see her, and could she and Emma Jane 
show him their beautiful room with so many of hit 
gifts in c\'idcncc ? 

Wlien the girls had established themselves fa 
Warcham as real boarding pupils, it seemed to 
then) existence vras as full of joy as it well could 
hold. This first winter was, in fact, the most tran- 
quilly bappy of Rebecca's school life, — a winter 



J 



REBECCA 33K 

long to be looked back upon. She and Emma 
Jane were room-mates» and had put their modest 
possessions together to make their surroundings 
pretty and homelike. The room had, to begin with, 
a cheerful red ingrain carpet and a set of maple 
furniture. As to the rest, Rebecca had furnished 
the ideas and Emma Jane the materials and labor, 
a method of dividing responsibilities that seemed 
to suit the circumstances admirably. Mrs. Perkins's 
father had been a storekeeper, and on his death 
bad left the goods of which he was possessed to 
his married daughter. The molasses, vineg^, and 
kerosene had lasted the family for five years, and 
the Perkins attic was still a treasure-house of 
ginghams, cottons, and " Yankee notions." So at 
Rebecca's instigation Mrs. Perkins had made full 
curtains and lambrequins of unbleached muslin, 
which she had trimmed and looped back with 
bands of Turkey red cotton. There were two table 
covers to match, and each of the girls had her 
study corner. Rebecca, after much coaxing, had 
been allowed to bring over her precious lamp, 
which would have given a luxurious air to any 
apartment, and when Mr. Aladdin's last Christmas 
presents were added, — the Japanese screen for 
Emma Jane and the little shelf of English Poets 
for Rebecca, — they declared that it was all quite 
as much fun as being married and going to hous^ 
keeping. 



aj» 



REBECCA 



The day of Huldah's call was Friday, and on 
Fridays from three to half past four Rebecca was 
free to take a pleasure to which she looked forward 
the entire week. She always ran down the snowy 
path through the pine woods at the back of the 
Mminary, and coming out on a quiet village street, 
went directly to the large white house where Miss 
Maxwell lived. The maid-of-all-work aDSwered her 
knock ; she took off her hat and cape and hung 
them in the hall, put her rubber shoes and um- 
brella carefully in the comer, and then opened the 
door of paradise. Miss Maxwell's sitting-room was 
lined on two sides with bookshelves, and Rebecca 
was allowed to sit before the fire and browse 
among the books to her heart's delight for an hour 
or more Then Miss Maxwell would come back 
from her class, and there would be a precious half 
hour of chat before Rebecca bad to meet Emma 
Jane at the station and take the train for River- 
boro, where her Saturdays and Sundays were 
spent, and where she was washed, ironed, mended, 
and examined, approved and reproved, warned and 
advised in quite sufficient quantity to last her the 
succeeding week. 

On this Friday she buried her face in the bloocn- 
ing geraniums on Miss Maxwell's plant-stand, se- 
lected Romola [ram one of the bookcases, and sank 
into a seat by the window with a sigh of infinite 
content She glanced at the clock now and then. 



^ 



REBECCA 233 

remembering the day on which she had been so 
immersed in David Copperfield that the Riverboro 
train had no place in her mind. The distracted 
Emma Jane had refused to leave without her, and 
had run from the station to look for her at Miss 
Maxwell's. There was but one later train» and that 
went only to a place three miles the other side 
of Riverboro, so that the two girls appeared at their 
respective homes long after dark, having had a 
weary walk in the snow. 

When she had read for half an hour she glanced 
out of the window and saw two figures issuing from 
the path through the woods. The knot of bright 
hair and the coquettish hat could belong to but 
one person ; and her companion, as the couple ap- 
proached, proved to be none other than Mr. Alad- 
din. Huldah was lifting her skirts daintily and 
picking safe stepping-places for the high-heeled 
shoes, her cheeks glowing, her eyes sparkling under 
the black and white veil. 

Rebecca slipped from her post by the window to 
the rug before the bright fire and leaned her head 
on the seat of the great easy-chair. She was fright- 
ened at the storm in her heart ; at the suddenness 
with which it had come on, as well as at the strange- 
ness of an entirely new sensation. She felt all at 
once as if she couKI not bear to give up her share 
of Mr. Aladdin's friendship to Iluldah : Huldah so 
bright, saucy, and pretty ; so gay and ready, and 



*M 



REBECCA 



such good company I She bad always jo3rfuOy ad- 
mitted Emma Jane into the precious portaerehip^ 
but perhaps unconsciously to herself she had real- 
ized that Kmma Jane had never held anything but 
a secondary place in Mr. Aladdin's regard ; yet who 
was she herself, after all, that she could hope to be 
first ? 

Suddenly the door opened softly and Bontebody 
looked in, somebody who said : " Miss Maxwell 
told me I should find Miss Rebecca Randall here." 

Rebecca started at the sound and sprang to her 
feet, saying joyfully, " Mr. Aladdin ! Ob I I knew 
you were in Warcbam, and I was afraid you 
would n't have time to come and see us." 

" Who is ' us ' ? The aunts are not here^ are 
they ? Oh, you mean the rich blacksmith's daugfa* 
ter, whose name I can never remember. Is she 
here ? ** 

" Yes, and my room-mate," answered Rcbecci, 
who thought her own knell of doom had sounded, 
if he had forgotten Emma Jane's name. 

The light in the room grew softer, the fire 
crackled cheerily, and they talked of many things, 
until the old sweet sense of friendliness and famil- 
iarity crept back into Rebecca's heart Adam 
bad not seen her for several months, and there was 
much to be learned about school matters as viewed 
from her own standpoint ; he had already inquired 
concenung her progress from Mr. Morrisoa 



J 



REBECCA 23$ 

''Wen, little Miss Rebecca,** he sajd, rousing 
himself at length, '' I must be thinking of my drive 
to Portland There is a meeting of railway di- 
rectors there to-morrow, and I always take this 
opportunity of visiting the school and g^\ing my 
valuable advice concerning its affairs, educational 
and financial." 

" It seems funny for you to be a school trustee," 
said Rebecca contemplatively. ** I can't seem to 
make it fit." 

'* You are a remarkably wise young person and 
I quite agree with you," he answered ; ** the fact 
is," he added soberly, " I accepted the trusteeship 
in memory of my poor little mother, whose last 
happy years were spent here." 

" That was a long time ago ! " 

" Let me see, I am thirty-two ; only thirty-two^ 
despite an occasional g^y hair. My mother was 
married a month after she graduated, and she lived 
only until I was ten ; yes, it is a long way back to 
my mother's time here, though the school was fif- 
teen or twenty years old then, I believe. Would 
you like to see my mother, Miss Rebecca f " 

The girl took the leather case gently and opened 
it to find an innocent, pink-and-white daisy of a 
face, so confiding, so sensitive, that it went straight 
to the heart. It made Rebecca feel old, experienced, 
and maternal. She longed on the instant to com- 
fort and strengthen such a tender young thing. 



236 REBECCA 

** Oh, what a sweet, sweet, flowery face I •* she 
whispered softly. 

" The flower had to bear all sorts of storms,** said 
Adam gravely. " The bitter weather of the world 
bent its slender stalk, bowed its head, and dragged 
it to the earth. I was only a child and could do 
nothing to protect and nourish it, and there was no 
one else to stand between it and trouble. Now I 
have success and money and power, all that would 
have kept her alive and happy, and it is too late; 
She died for lack of love and care, nursing and 
cherishing, and I can never forget it. All that has 
come to me seems now and then so useless, since I 
cannot share it with her ! " 

This was a new Mr. Aladdin, and Rebecca's heart 
gave a throb of sympathy and comprehension. This 
explained the tired look in his eyes, the look that 
peeped out now and then, under all his gay speech 
and laughter. 

" I 'm so glad I know," she said, " and so glad I 
could see her just as she was when she tied that 
white muslin hat under her chin and saw her yellow 
curls and her sky-blue eyes in the glass. Must n't 
she have been happy ! I wish she could have been 
kept so, and had lived to see you grow up strong 
and good. My mother is alw'ays sad and busy, but 
once when she looked at John I heard her say, • He 
makes up for everything.' That 's what your mother 
would have thought about you if she had lived,-* 
and perhaps she does as it is." 



REBECCA 337 

''You are a comforting little person, Rebecca,'* 
Adam, rising from his chair. 

As Rebecca rose» the tears still trembling on her 
lashes, he looked at her suddenly as with new vision* 

" Good-by ! " he said, taking her slim brown 
hands in his» adding, as if he saw her for the first 
time, " Why, little Rose-Red-Snow-White is making 
way for a new girl ! Burning the midnight oil and 
doing four years* work in three is supposed to dull 
the eye and blanch the cheek, yet Rebecca's eyes 
are bright and she has a rosy color ! Her long braids 
are looped one on the other so that they make a 
black letter U behind, and they are tied with grand 
bows at the top ! She is so tall that she reaches 
almost to my shoulder. This will never do in the 
world I How will Mr. Aladdin get on without his 
comforting little friend ! He does n't like grown-up 
young ladies in long trains and wonderful fine 
clothes ; they frighten and bore him ! " 

" Oh, Mr. Aladdin ! " cried Rebecca eagerly, 
taking his jest quite seriously ; " I am not fifteen 
yet, and it will be three years before I *m a young 
lady ; please don't give me up until you have to I " 

** I won't ; I promise you that," said Adam. 
^ Rebecca,*' he continued, after a moment's pause, 
** who is that young girl with a lot of pretty red 
hair and very citified manners ? She escorted me 
down the hill ; do you know whom I mean ? " 

" It must be Huldah Meserve ; she is from River- 
boro. 



S3S 



REBECCA 



AdttB put ft finger under Rebecca i dun md 
lookitd into her eyes ; eyes as soft, as clear, as un- 
consdons, and childlike as they had been when she 
was ten. He remembered the other pair of dial* 
lenging blue ones that had darted coquettish glances 
tiiroiiij^ half-dropped lid% shot arrowy brams from 
uder aichly lifted brow% and said gravdy, ** Don't 
form jooTMlf on her, Rebecca; dover blossoms 
fhat grow in the fidds beside Simnybrodc must n't 
be tied in the same bouquet with gaudy sunflowers; 
fhef are too sweet and fngnmt and wholesome." 



XXIII 

THE HILL DIFFICULTY 

TIE first happy year at Wareham, with 
its widened sky-line, its larger vision, its 
greater opportunity, was over and gone. 
Rebecca bad studied during the summer vacation^ 
and bad passed, on ber return in tbe autumn, cer- 
tain examinations wbicb would enable ber, if she 
carried out tbe same programme tbe next season, 
to complete tbe course in three instead of four 
years. She came off with no flying colors, — that 
would have been impossible in consideration of her 
inadequate training ; but she did wonderfully well 
in some of the required subjects, and so brilliantly 
in others that the average was respectable. She 
would never have been a remarkable scholar under 
any circumstances, perhaps, and she was easily out- 
stripped in mathematics and tbe natural sciences 
by a dozen girls, but in some inexplicable way she 
became, as the months went on, the foremost figure 
in the school. When she had entirely forgotten the 
facts which would enable her to answer a question 
fully and conclusively, she commonly had some 
original theory to expound ; it was not alwap cor^ 
rect, but it was generally unique and sometimes 
amusing. She was only fair in Latin or French 



340 



REBECCA 



grammar, but vhen it came to transktiun, her free- 
dom, her choice of words, and her sj'mpathetic uih 
derstanding of the spirit of the text made bcr the 
delight of her teachers and the despair of her ri\-aU. 

"She can be perfectly ignorant of a subject," 
laid Miss Maxwell to Adam I^dd, "but entirety 
intelligent the moment she has a clue. Most of the 
other girls are full of information and as stupid as 
sheep." 

Rebecca's gifts had not been discovered lave by 
the few, during the first year, when she was adjust- 
ing herself quietly to the situation. She was dis- 
tinctly one of the poorer girls ; she had no Sne 
dresses to attract attention, no visitors, no friends 
in the town. She bod more study hours, and less 
time, therefore, for the companionship of other girls, 
gladly as she would have welcomed the gayety of 
that side of school life. Still, water will find its own 
level in some way, and by the spring of the second 
year she had naturally settled into the same sort oi 
leadership which had been hers in the smaller com- 
munity of Riverbonx She was unanimously elected 
assistant editor of the Warcham School Pilot, being 
the first girl to assume that enviable^ though some- 
what arduous and thankless position, and when her 
maiden number went to the Cobbs, Uncle Jerry and 
BUDI Sar^h could hardly eat or sleep for pride 

" She '11 always get votes," said Huldah Meserv^ 
when dtsctissing the election, "(or whether aba 



REBECCA 241 

knows anything or not, she looks as if she did, and 
whether she 's capable of filling an office or not, she 
looks as if she was. I only wish I was tall and dark 
and had the gift of making people believe I was 
great things, like Rebecca Randall. There's one 
thing : though the boys call her handsome, you 
notice they don't trouble her with much attention." 

It was a fact that Rebecca's attitude towards the 
opposite sex was still somewhat indifferent and ob- 
livious, even for fifteen and a half ! No one could 
look at her and doubt that she had potentialities of 
attraction latent within her somewhere, but that side 
of her nature was happily biding its time. A human 
being is capable only of a certain amount of activity 
at a given moment, and it will inevitably satisfy 
first its most pressing needs, its most ardent desires, 
its chief ambitions. Rebecca was full of small 
anxieties and fears, for matters were not going well 
at the brick house and were anj'thing but hopeful 
at the home farm. She was overbusy and overtaxed* 
and her thoughts were naturally drawn towards the 
difficult problems of daily living. 

It had seemed to her during the autumn and 
winter of that year as if her aunt Miranda had 
ne\'cr been, save at the very first, so censorious and 
so fault-finding. One Saturday Rebecca ran up- 
stairs and, bursting into a flood of tears, exclaimed, 
'* Aunt Jane, it seems as if I never could stand her 
continual scoldings. Nothing I can do suits aunt 



242 REBECCA 

Miranda ; she *s just said it will take me my whole 
life to get the Randall out of me, and I 'm not con- 
vinced that I want it all out, so there we are ! " 

Aunt Jane, never demonstrative, cried with Re- 
becca as she attempted to soothe her. 

" You must be patient," she said, wiping first her 
own eyes and then Rebecca's. " I have n't told you, 
for it is n't fair you should be troubled when you 're 
studying so hard, but your aunt Miranda is n't well 
One Monday morning about a month ago, she had 
a kind of faint spell ; it was n't bad, but the doctor 
is afraid it was a shock, and if so, it 's the beg^inning 
of the end Seems to me she *s failing right along, 
and that 's what makes her so fretful and easy vexed. 
She has other troubles too, that you don't know 
anything about, and if you 're not kind to your aunt 
Miranda now, child, you '11 be dreadful sorry some 
time. 

All the tenaper faded from Rebecca's face, and 
she stopped crying to say penitently, " Oh ! the poor 
dear thing ! I won't mind a bit what she says now. 
She 's just asked me for some milk toast and I 
was dreading to take it to her, but this will make 
everything different. Don't worry yet, aunt Jane, 
for perhaps it won't be as bad as you think." 

So when she carried the toast to her aunt a little 
later, it was in the best gilt-edged china bowl, with 
a fringed napkin on the tray and a sprig of geranium 
lying across the salt cellar. 



REBECCA 343 

^ Now, aunt Miranda," she said cheerily, ^ I expect 
you to smack your lips and say this b good ; it 's not 
Randall, but Sawyer milk toast" 

" You 've tried all kinds on me, one time an* 
another," Miranda answered. ''This tastes real 
kind o* good ; but I wish you had n't wasted that 
nice geranium." 

"You can*t tell what's wasted," said Rebecca 
philosophically ; " perhaps that geranium has been 
hoping this long time it could brighten somebody's 
supper, so don't disappoint it by making believe you 
don't like it. I 've seen geraniums cry, — in the very 
early morning ! " 

The mysterious trouble to which Jane had alluded 
was a very real one, but it was held in profound 
secrecy. Twenty-five hundred dollars of the small 
Saw)'er property had been invested in the business 
of a friend of their father's, and had returned them 
a regular annual income of a hundred dollars. The 
family friend had been dead for some five years, 
but his son had succeeded to his interests and all 
went on as formerly. Suddenly there came a letter 
saying that the firm had gone into bankruptcy, 
that the business had been completely wrecked, and 
that the Sawyer money had been swept away with 
evcr)'thing else. 

The loss of one hundred dollars a year is a very 
trifling matter, but it made all the difference between 
comfort and self-denial to the two old spinsters 



244 REBECCA 

Their manner of life had been so rigid and carefid 
that it was difficult to economize any further, and the 
blow had fallen just when it was most inconvenient, 
for Rebecca's school and boarding expenses, small 
as they were, had to be paid promptly and in cash. 

"Can we possibly go on doing it? Shan't we 
have to give up and tell her why?" asked Jane 
tearfully of the elder sister. 

" We have put our hand to the plough, and we 
can't turn back," answered Miranda in her grim- 
mest tone ; " we *ve taken her away from her mother 
and offered her an education, and we 've got to keep 
our word. She *s Aurelia's only hope for years to 
come, to my way o' thinldn*. Hannah's beau takes 
all her time 'n* thought, and when she gits a hus- 
band her mother '11 be out o* sight and out o* mind. 
John, instead of farmin*, thinks he must be a doc- 
tor, — as if folks \^'asn't gettin' unhealthy enough 
these days, without turnin' out more young doctors 
to help cm into their graves. No, Jane ; we '11 skimp 
'n* do without, 'n* plan to git along on our interest 
money somehow, but we won't break into our prin- 
cipal, whatever happens." 

" Hreaking into the principal " was. in the minds 
of most thrifty New Enf;:land women, a sin only 
second to arson, theft, or murder ; and, though the 
rule was occasionally carried too far for common 
sense, — as in this case, where two elderly women 
of sixty might reasonably have drawn something 




REBECCA 



*4S 



from thetr little board in time of special need, — it 
doubtless wrought more of good than evil in the 
comiDunity. 

Rebecca, who knew nothing of thdr busbesa 
affairs, merdy saw her aunts grow more and more 
saving, pinching here and there, cutting off this 
and that retcotlcssly. Less meat and fnh were 
bought ; the woman who had lately been coming 
two days a week (or washing, ironing, and scrub- 
bing was dismissed ; the old bonnets of the season 
before were brushed up and retrimmed ; there wen 
no drives to Moderation or trips to Portland. Econ* 
omy was carried to its very extreme ; but thoogh 
Miranda was well-nigh as gloomy and uncompromis- 
ing in her manner and conversation as a woman could 
well be. she at least ne\'cr twitted her niece of being 
■ burden ; so Rebecca's share of the Saw)-ers' mis- 
fortunes consisted only in wearing her old dresses, 
hats, and jackets, without any apparent hope of a 
change. 

There was, however, no concealing the state of 
things at Sunnybrook. where chapten of accidents 
had unfolded themselves in a sort of serial story that 
had run through the year. The potato crop had 
failed ; there were nn apples to speak of ; the bay 
h^d been poor ; Aurelia had turns at dioineaa in 
her hud ; Mark had broken his ankle. As this was 
his fourth oETcnsc, Miranda incpiirrd bow many 
bones there were in the human body, " lo 'l they 'd 



«4fi 



REBECCA 



know when Mark got through brcakin' 'em." Tbe 
time for paying the interest od the mortgage, that 
incubus that hod crushed all the joy out of the 
Randall household, had come and gone, and there 
was no possibility, for the first time in fourteen 
years, of paying the required forty<ight dollars. 
The only bright spot in the horizon was Hannah's 
engagement to Will Melville, — a young farmer 
whose land joined Sunnyhrook, who bad a good 
house, was alone in tbe world, and his own master. 
Hannah was so satisfied with her own unexpectedly 
radiant prospects that she hardly realized her mo- 
ther's anxieties ; for there are natures which flourish 
in adversity, and deteriorate when exposed to sud* 
[ den prosperity. She had made a visit of a week at 
' the brick bouse; and Miranda's impression, coa> 
veyed in privacy to Jane, was that Hantiah was close 
as the bark of a tree, and consid'able selfish loo; 
that when she'd dim' as fur as she could in tbe 
world, she 'd kick tbe ladder out from under her, 
evcrlastin' quick ; that, on being sounded as to ber 
ability to be of use to the younger children in the 
future, she said she guessed she 'd done her share 
a'rcady, and she wan't goin' to burden Will with 
her poor rebtions. " She's Susan Randall through 
and through ) " ejactilatcd Miranda. " I was glad to 
see her face turned towards Temperance. If that 
mortgage is ever cleared from tbe farm, 't won't be 
Hannah that '11 do it ; it'll be Rebecca or mc I" 




ALADDIN RUBS HIS LAMP 

YOUR esteemed contribution entitled Ware- 
ham WildflowcTS has been accepted for 
The Pilot, Miss Perkins." aaid Rebecca, 
entering the room where Emma Jane was darning 
the firm's stockings. " I stayed to tea with Kfiu 
Maxwell, but came home early to tell you." 

"You are joking, Becky ! " faltered Emma Jane^ 
looking up from her work. 

" Not a bit ; the senior editor read it and thought 
it highly instructive; it appears in the next issue." 

" Not in the same number with your poem about 
the golden gates that close behind us when we leave 
school ?" — and Emma Jane held her breath as she 
awaited the reply. 

" Even so. Miss Perkins." 

" Rebecca." said Emma Jane, with the nearest 
^iprooch to tragedy that her nature would permit, 
" I don't know as 1 shall be able to bear it. and if 
anything happens to me, I ask you solemnly to bury 
that number of The Pilot with mc." 

Rebecca did not se«m to think this the exprea- 
skin of an exaggerated state of feeling, inasmuch as 
she replied, " I know ; that 'a just the way it seemed 
to me at fint, and even now, whenever I 'm aloM 




248 REBECCA 

and take out the PQot back numbers to read over 
my contributions, I almost burst with pleasure ; and 
it's not that they are good either, for they look 
worse to me every time I read them." 

" If you would only live with me in some little 
house when we get older/' mused Emma Jane, as 
with her darning needle poised in air she regarded 
the opposite wall dreamily, " I would do the house- 
work and cooking, and copy all your poems and 
stories, and take them to the post-office, and you 
needn't do anything but write. It would be per- 
fectly elergant ! " 

*' 1 'd like nothing better, if I had n't prcMnised to 
keep house for John," replied Rebecca. 

" He won't have a house for a good many years, 
will he ? " 

" No," sighed Rebecca ruefully, flinging herself 
down by the table and resting her head on her hand. 
" Not unless we can contrive to pay off that detest- 
able mortgage. The day grows farther ofif instead 
of nearer, now that we haven't paid the interest 
this year." 

She pulled a piece of paper towards her, and 
scribbling idly on it read aloud in a moment or 
two : — 

** Will you pay a little faster ?'* said the mortgage to the farm ; 

•* I confess I 'm very tired of this place.** 
*• The weariness is motual,** Rebecca Randall cried ; 

** I would I *d nerer gazed upon jour face i ** 



REBECCA 



»49 



" A note his a ' face.' " observed Emma Jane, who 
was gifted in arithmetic. " I did n't know that a 
mortgage had." 

" Our mortgage has," said Rebecca revengefully. 
" I should know him if I met bim in the dark. Wait 
and 1 11 draw him for you. It wUl be good for you 
to know how he looks, and then when you have a 
husband and seven children, you won*t allow him to 
come anywhere within a mile of your farm." 

The sketch when completed was ai a sort to be 
shunned by a timid i>erson on the \'crge of slumber. 
There was a tiny bouse on the right, and a weeping 
family gathered in front of iL The mortgage was 
depicted as a cn»s between a fiend and an ogn, 
and held an axe uplifted in hb red right hand. A 
figure with streaming black locks was staying tbe 
blow, and this, Rebecca explained complacently, wai 
intended as a likeness of herself, though she wu 
rather vague as to tbe method she should use in 
attaining her end 

" He 's terrible." satd Emma Jane, " but awfully 
wizened and small" 

** It 'a only a twelve hundred dollar mortgage;'' 
sud Rebecca, " and that 's called a small one. John 
law a man ottce that was mortgaged for twelve 
thousand." 

" Shall you be a writer or an editor i " asked 
Emma Jane presently, as if one had only to choose 
and tbe thing were dooe. 



250 REBECCA 

" I shall have to do what turns up first, I sop- 
pose." 

" Why not go out as a missionary to Syria, as the 
Burches are always coaxing you to? The Board 
would pay your expenses." 

'* I can't make up my mind to be a missionary,'* 
Rebecca answered. ^ I 'm not good enough in the 
first place, and I don't ' fed a call,' as Mr. Burch 
says you must I would like to do something for 
somebody and make things move, somewhere^ but 
I don't want to go thousands of miles away teaching 
people how to live when I have n't learned myself. 
It is n't as if the heathen really needed me ; I 'm 
Bure they '11 come out all right in the end" 

" I can't see how ; if all the people who ought to 
go out to save them stay at home as we do," argued 
Emma Jane. 

"Why, whatever God is, and wherever He is. 
He must always be there, ready and waiting. He 
can't move about and miss people. It may take 
the heathen a little longer to find Him, but God 
will make allowances, of course. He knows if they 
live in such hot climates it must make them lazy 
and slow; and the parrots and tigers and snakes 
and bread-fruit trees distract their minds ; and 
having no books, they can't think as well ; but 
they '11 find God somehow, some time." 

** What if they die first } " asked Emma Jane. 

" Oh, well, they can't be blamed for that ; they 



REBECCA 



aji 



rdoa't die on purpose," said Rebecca, with a com* 
favtaUe theology. 
In these dayt Adam Ladd lometiroes went to 
Temperance on bu&iness coonocted with the pro- 
posed branch ol the railroad familiarly known 
u the " York and Yank 'em," and while there he 
gained an inkling of Sannybrook affairs. The build- 
ing of the new road was not yet a certainty, and 
there was a difference of opinion as to the best 
route from Temperance to Plumville. In one event 
the way would lead directly through Sunnybrook. 
from comer to comer, and Mrs. Randall would be 
compensated ; in the other, her interests would not 
be affected either for good or ill sa^-e as all land in 
the immediate neighborhood might rise a little in 
value. 

Coming from Temperance to Wareham one day, 
Adam had a long walk aiKl talk with Rebecca, 
whom be thought looking pole and thin, though 
she was holding bravely to her sell-impused boors 
of work. She was wearing a black cashmere dress 
that had been her aunt Jane's second best We are 
familiar with the heroine of romance whose foot is 
so exquisitely shaped that the coarsest shoe canont 
conceal its perfections, and one always cbertshes a 
doubt of the statement ; yet it is true thai Rebec- 
ca's peculiar and individual charm seemed wholly 
iodependeai of accessories. The lines a< ber ft^ 



I 



252 REBECCA 

ure, the rare coloring of skin and hair and eyes, 
triumphed over shabby clothing, though, had the 
advantage of artistic apparel been given her, the 
little world of Wareham would probably at once 
have dubbed her a beauty. The long black braids 
were now disposed after a quaint fashion of her 
own. They were crossed behind, carried up to the 
front, and crossed again, the tapering ends finally 
brought down and hidden in the thicker part at the 
neck. Then a purely feminine touch was given to 
the hair that waved back from the face, — a touch 
that rescued little crests and wavelets from bondage 
and set them free to take a new color in the sun. 

Adam Ladd looked at her in a way that made 
her put her hands over her face and laugh through 
them shyly as she said : " I know what you are 
thinking, Mr. Aladdin, — that my dress is an inch 
longer than last year, and my hair different ; but 
I *m not nearly a young lady yet ; truly I *m noL 
Sixteen is a month off still, and you promised not 
to give me up till my dress trails. If you don't like 
me to grow old. why don't you ji^row young ? Then 
we can meet in the halfway house and have nice 
times. Now that I think about it," she continued, 
"that's just what you've been doing all along. 
When you bought the soap, I thought you were 
grandfather Sawyer's age ; when you danced with 
me at the flag-raising, you seemed like my father ; 
but when you showed me your mother's picture; I 




I -IN.; lAi.v \t 



I 



REBECCA 



»53 



feh as U you were my John, because I was so aony 
(or yoa" 

" Thjt will do very well," smiled Adam ; " unless 
you go so swiftly tlut you become my gnndmotber 
before I really need one. You arc studying too 
hard, Miss Rebecca Rowena ! " 

"Just a little," she confessed "But vacation 
comes soon, you know." 

" And are you going to have a good rest and try 
to recover your dimples f They are really worth 
preserving." 

A shadow crept over Rebecca's face and her eyes 
niffused. " Don't be kind. Mr. Aladdin, I can't bear 
It ; — It's — it 'i not one of my dimply days I " and 
she ran in at the seminary gate, and disappeared 
wtth a farewtil wave of her hand. 

Adam Ladd wended his way to the principal's 
office in a thoughtful mood. He had come to Ware- 
ham to unfold a plan that he had been considering 
for several days. This year was the fiftieth anni- 
versary of the founding of the Warcharo schools, 
and be meant to tell Mr. Morrison that in addttku 
to bis gift of a hundred volumes to the reference 
Ubrary, he intended to celebrate it by offering prites 
in English composition, a subject in which he was 
much interested He wished the boys and giiis of 
the two upper classes to compete ; the award to be 
made to the writers of the two best essays. As to 
the nature of the prizes he bad not quite made up 



a54 



REBECCA 



his mind, but tbey would be substantial ones, dtber 
of money or of books. 

This interview accomplished, he called upon Mu» 
Maxwell, thinking as he took the path through the 
woods, " Rose- Red-Snow- While needs the help, and 
since there is no way of my giving it to her without 
causing remark, she must earn it, poor little soul) 
I wonder if my money is always to be useless where 
most I wish to spend it I " 

He had scarcely greeted his hostess when he 
said : " Miss Maxwell, does n't it strike you that 
our friend Rebecca looks wretchedly tired t " 

" She docs indeed, and I am considering whether 
I can take her away with me. I always go South 
for the spring vacation, traveling by sea to Old 
Point Comfort, and rusticating in some quiet spot 
near by. I should like nothing better than to have 
Rebecca for a companion." 

"The very thing I" assented Adam heartily; 
" but why should you take the whole responsibility ? 
Why not let me help } I am greatly interested fai 
the child, and have been for some years," 

" Vou need n't pretend you discovered her," in- 
temipted Miss Maxwell warmly, " for I did that 
myself." 

" She was an intimate friend of mine long before 
you ever came to Wareham." laughed Adam, and 
he told Miss Maxwell the circumstances of hb first 
meeting with Rebecca. " From the begioniog I 'vq 



J 




REBECCA 



3SS 



tried to think of a way I could be useful id ber 
development, but no reaaonablc solution Kcnicd to 
offer itself." 

" Luckily she attends to ber own de\'dopment," 
answered lit'a* Maxwell. " In a sense she is blde- 
pendent of everything and everybody ; she foUowi 
her saint without being conscious of 'A. But she 
needs a hundred practical things that money would 
buy for her, and alas ! I have a slender purse." 

"Take mine, 1 beg, and let mcact through you," 
pleaded Adam. " 1 coukl not bear to see even a 
young tree trying its best to grow without light or 
fttr, — how much less a gifted child ! I inten'iewed 
her aunu a year ago, hoping I might be permitted 
to give her a musical education. I assured them it 
was a most ordinary occurrence, and that I was wtD- 
ing to be repaid later on if thej- insisted, but it was 
no use. The cider Miss Sawyer remarked that no 
member of her family ever had lived on charity, 
and she guessed they would n't begin at this tate 
day." 

" I rather like that uncompromising New Eng- 
land grit," exclaimed Miss Maxwell. " and so far. I 
don't regret one burden that Rebecca has borne or 
one sorrow that she has shared. Necessity has only 
made her brave ; poverty has only made her daring 
and self-reliant As to her present needs, there 
are certain things only a woman ought to do for a 
giri, and I should not like to have you do them for 



356 



REBECCA 



Rebecca ; I should feel that I was wounding her 
pride and self-respect, even though she were igno- 
rant : but there is no reason why I may not do them 
if necessary and let you pay her traveling expenses. 
I would accept those for her without the slightest 
embarrassment, but I agree that the matter would 
better be kept private between us," 

" You are a real fairy godmother I " exctainted 
Adam, shaking her hand warmly. " Would it be 
less trouble for you to invite her room-mate too, — 
the pin k-and- white inseparable ? " 

" No, thank you, I prefer to have Rebecca a 
myself," said Miss Maxwell. 

"I can understand that," replied Adam absent 
mindedty ; "I mean, of course, that one child is lesa 
trouble than two. There she is now." 

Here Rebecca appeared in sight, walking down 
the quiet street with a lad of sixteen. They were ia 
animated conversation, and were app-orently Ttading 
something aloud to each other, (or the black head 
and the curly brown one were both bent over a sheet 
of letter paper. Rebecca kept glancing up at her 
companion, her eyes sparkling with appreciation. 

"Miss Maxwell," said Adam, "I am a trustee of 
this institution, but upon my word I don't believe ia 
coeducation ! " 

" I have my own occasional hours of doubt," 
inswered, " but surely its disadvantages arc redna 
to > roinimum with — children I That isaverjii 



REBECCA 



857 



presaive sight which yoa are privileged to witnen, 
Mr. Ladd. The folk in Cambridge often gloated 
OD the spectacle of Longfellow and Lowell arm in 
arm. The little school world of Wareham palpi* 
tates with excitement when it sees the senior and 
the junior editors of The Pilot walking together 1 " 



XXV 

ROSES OF JOY 

TIE day before Rebecca started for the 
South with Bfias Bfaxwell she was m the 
library with Emma Jane and Huldah, con- 
sulting dictionaries and encyclopaedias. As they 
were leaving they passed the locked cases contain- 
ing the libraiy of fiction, open to the teachers and 
townspeople^ but forbidden to the students. 

They looked longingly through the glass, getting^ 
some little comfort from the titles of the volumesy 
as hungry chSdren imbibe emotional nourishment 
from the pies and tarts inside a confectioner's win- 
dow. Rebecca's eyes fell upon a new book in the 
comer, and she read the name aloud with delight : 
•* The Rose of Joy. Listen, girls ; is n't that lovely ? 
The Rose of Joy. It looks beautiful, and it sounds 
beautiful What does it mean, I wonder?" 

''I guess everybody has a different rose," said 
Huldah shrewdly. '' I know what mine would be, 
and I 'm not ashamed to own it I 'd like a year 
in a city, with just as much money as I wanted 
to spend, horses and splendid clothes and amuse> 
ments every minute of the day ; and I 'd like above 
everything to live with people that wear low 
necks." (Poor Huldah never took off her dress with- 



REBECCA 



2S9 



I 



OQt bemiling the fact that her lot wu cut in 
Kiverboro, where her pretty white shoulders could 
never be seen.) 

" That would be fun, for a while any«-ay," Emma 
Jane remarked " But would n't that be pleasure 
more than joy ? Oh, I 'vc gftt an idea 1 " 

"Don't shriek sol" said the startled Huldah. 
" I thought it was a mouse:" 

" [ don't have them very often," apologized Emma 
Jane, — " ideas, I mean ; this one shook me like 
a stroke of lightning. Rebecca, could n't it be suc- 
cess?" 

"That 's good," mused Rebecca ;" I can see that 
success would be a joy. but it does n't seem to me 
like a rose, somehow. I was wondering if it could 
be love t " 

" I wish we could have a peep at the book I It 
must be perfectly elerganl t " said Emma Jane. 
" But now you say it is love^ I think that 's the best 
guess yeL" 

All day long the four words haunted and pos- 
sessed Rebecca ; she said them over to herself con* 
tinually. Ex-en the prosaic Emma Jane was affected 
by them, for in the evening she saki, •* 1 don't ex- 
pect you to believe it, but I have another idea, — 
that 's two in one day ; I had it while I was putting 
cologne on )-our head. The rose of joy might be 
bcIpfulDCss.** 

" If it is, Ibeo it is always blooming in your dear 



26o 



REBECCA 



little heart, you darlingest, kind Emmie, taking 
such good care of your troublesome Becky I " 

" Don't dare to call yourself troublesome ! You 're 
— you 're — you 're my rose of joy, that 's what you 
are 1 " And the two girls hugged each other affcc* 
tionately. 

In the middle of the night Rebecca touched 
Emma Jane on the shoulder softly. " Are you very 
fast asleep, Emmie ? " she whispered- 

*' Not so very," answered Emma Jane drowsQy. 

" I 've thought of something new. If you sang or 
painted or wrote, — not a little, but beautifully, yoa 
know, — would n't the doing of it, just as much as 
you wanted, give you the rose of joy ? " 

" It might if it was a real talent," answered Emma 
Jane, " though I don't like it so well as love If you 
have another thought, Becky, keep it till mommg." 

" I did have one more inspiration," said Rebecca 
when Ihey were dressing next morning, " but I ^ 
did n't wake you. I wondered if the rose of jo; 
could be sacrifice .> But I think sacrifice would b 
a lily, not a rose; don't you ? " 



The journey southward, the first glhnpse of t 
ocean, the strange new scenes, the ease and de5> ' 
cious freedom, the intimacy with Miss Maxwell, 
almost intoxicated RebcccL In three days she « 
not only herself again, she was another self, thrill- J 
bg with delight, anticipation, and realization. Slitt'l 



REBECCA 



361 



bad always had such eager hunger for knowledge, 
such thirst for love, such passionate longing for the 
music, the beauty, the poetry of existence t She 
had always been straining to make the outward 
world conform to her inward dreams, and now life 
had grown all at once rich and sweet, wide and full 
She was usbg all her natura], God-given outlets ; 
and Emily Maxwell marveled diily at the tttexhaust- 
ible way in whkh the girl poured out and gathered 
in the treasures of thought and experience that 
belonged to her. She was a Itf^vcr, altering the 
whole scheme of any picture she made a part of, 
by contributing new values. Have you never seen 
the dull blues and greens of a room changed, trana- 
figured by a bunt of sunshine ? That seemed to 
Miss Maxwell the effect of Robccca on the groups of 
people with whom they now and then mingled ; but 
they were commonly alone, reading to each other 
and having quiet talks. The prize essay was very 
much on Rebecca's mind. Secretly she thought 
the could never be happy unless ihe won it She 
cared nothing for the value of it, and in this case 
almost nothing for the honor ; she wanted to plcaae 
Mr. Aladdin and justify his belief in her. 

" If I ever succeed in choosing a subiect. I most 
ask if you think I can write well on It ; and then 
I suppOK I must work in silence and secret, never 
even reading the essay to you, nor talking about it" 

Htsi Huwdl and Rebecca were sitting by a little 



262 REBECCA 

brook on a sunny spring day. They had been in a 
stretch of wood by the sea since breakfast, going 
every now and then for a bask on the warm white 
sand, and returning to their shady solitude when 
tired of the sun's glare. 

'' The subject is very important/' said Miss Max- 
well, ** but I do not dare choose for you* Have you 
decided on anything yet ? " 

" No," Rebecca answered ; " I plan a new essay 
every night I Ve beg^n one on What is Failure ? 
and another on He and She That would be a 
dialogue between a boy and girl just as they were 
leaving school, and would tell their ideals of life. 
Then do you remember you said to me one day, 
' Follow your Saint ' ? I *d love to write about that 
I did n*t have a single thought in Wareham, and 
now I have a new one every minute, so I must try 
and write the essay here ; think it out, at any rate, 
while I am so happy and free and rested. Look at 
the pebbles in the bottom of the pool. Miss Emily, 
so round and smooth and shining." 

"Yes, but where did they get that beautiful pol- 
ish, that satin skin, that lovely shape, Rebecca ? 
Not in the still pool lying on the sands. It was 
never there that their angles were rubbed off and 
their rough surfaces polished, but in the strife and 
warfare of running waters. They have jostled 
against other pebbles, dashed against sharp rocks, 
and now we look at them and call them beautiful'* 




I 



REBECCA 

"If FM* iMd not madt imitbedf ■ itwbcf. 
She mlxht liiMbMO,ahl ndi ttpJandkl prndwrl" 

rhymed Rebecca. "Obi if T could only think and 
speak as you do ! " she sighed. "I am «> afraid I 
shall nc\xr get education enough to make a good 
writer." 

"You could wony about plenty of other things 
to better advantage." said Miss Maxwell, a little 
■corafully. " Be afraid, for instance, that you won't 
understand human nature ; that you won't rtalite 
the beauty of the outer world ; that you may lack 
ftympathy, and thus never be able to read a heart ; 
that your faculty of expression may not keep pace 
with your ideas, — a thousand things, oxry one of 
them more important to the writer than the know- 
ledge that is found In books, .^lop was a Greek 
slave who could not even write down his wonderful 
fables; yet all the world reads them." 

" I did n't know that," said Rebecca, with a half 
sob. " I did n't know anything until I met you 1" 

*' You will only have had a high school course, bat 
the most famous universitiea do not always socceed 
in making men and women. When I long to go 
abroad and study, I always remember that tberv 
were three great schools in Athens and two in Jeru- 
salem, but the Teacher of all teachers came out o( 
Naarcth, a little village hidden away from the b%- 
ger, busier world." 

"Mr. Ladd says that you are almoct wisted fl* 
Wxreban." aaid Rebecca tboogbtfuDjr. 



364 



REBECCA 



" He is wrong ; my talent is not a great one, bat 
no talent is wholly wasted unless its owner chooses 
to hide it in a napkin. Remember that of your own 
gifts, Rebecca ; they may not be praised of men, but 
they may cheer, console, inspire, perhaps, when and 
where you least expect The brimming glass that 
overflows its own rim moistens the earth about it" 

" Did you ever hear of The Rose of Joy?" asked 
Rebecca, after a long silence. M 

" Yes, of course ; where did you see it ? " H 

" On the outside of a book in the library." 1 

" I saw it on the inside of a book in the libnuy," 
smiled Miss Maxwell "It is from Emerson, but 
I 'm afraid you have n't quite grown up to it, Re- 
becca, and it is one of the things impossible to 
explain." 

"Oh, try me, dear Miss Maxwell!" pleaded R^ 
becca. " Perhaps by thinking hard I can gncn A 
little bit what it means." 

" ' In the actual — this painful kingdom of time 
and chance — are Care, Canker, and Sorrow; wfth 
thought, with the Ideal, is immortal hilarity — tbe 
rose of Joy ; round it all the Muses sing,'" qroted 
Miss Maxwell. 

Rebecca repeated it over and over again until she 
had learned it by heart ; then she said. " I don't 
want to be conceited, but I almost belie\'e I do ua> 
derstand it, Miss MaxwelL Not altogether, perhi 
I it is puziling and difficult; but a 1 



REBECCA 



J6S 



enough to go on with. It 'b as t( a «p1endid ihape 
galloped patt you on horseback ; you are to aur- 
prised and your eyes novo so slowly you cannot 
half see it, but you just catch a glimpse as it whisks 
by, and you know it is beautiful. It 's all settled 
My essay is going to be called Tbe Rose of Joy. 
I Ve just decided. It has n't any banning, nor any 
middle, but there will be a thrilling ending, some- 
thing like this : let me see ; joy, boy, toy, ahoy, do- 
coy, alloy : — 

Tim com whtf aill of «wl at wm 

(SiM* sH goU hmlk mllo7), 
Thovlt Uoooi wnridMnd in lU* bavt 

MrRMColJoyl 

Now I 'm going to tixlc )roQ up in the shawl and 
give jrou the fir pillow, and while you sleep I am 
going down on the shore and write a fairy story for 
you. It 's one of our ' supposing ' luod ; it flies (ar, 
far into the future, and makes beautiful things hap- 
pen that may never really all come to pass ; but 
some of them will, — you'll seet and then you'll 
take out the little fairy story from your desk and 
remember Rebecca." 

" I wonder why these young things always choose 
subjects that would tax tbe powers of a great essay- 
ist!" thoDght Miss tCazwetl, as the tried to sleepi 
"Are the)' daizted, captt^-aied, taken possession of. 
by the splendor of tbe theme, and do they faxxy 
tbey can write up to it? Fbor little ioaoccats, hitdi- 



266 REBECCA 

ing their toy wagons to the itan t How ptetty tUi 
particular innocent looks under her new sunshadel" 
Adam Ladd had been driving throi:^ Boston 
streets on a cold spring day when nature and the 
fashion-mongers were holding out promises whidi 
seemed far from performance. Suddenly his vision 
was assailed by the sight of a rose-colored psrasol 
gayly unfurled in a shop window, signaling the 
passer-by and setting him to dream of summer son* 
shine. It reminded Adam of a New England appl^ 
tree in full bloom* the outer covering of deep f^nk 
shining through the thin white lining, and a flnflEy, 
fringe-like edge of mingled rose and cream droppiqg 
over the green handle. AU at once he remembered 
one of Rebecca's early confidences, — the little pink 
sunshade that had given her the only peep into the 
gay world of fashion that her childhood had ever 
known ; her adoration of the flimsy bit of finery and 
its tragic and sacrificial end. He entered the shop^ 
bought the extravagant bauble, and expressed it to 
Wareham at once, not a single doubt of its appro* 
priateness crossing the darkness of his masculine 
mind. He thought only of the joy in Rebecca's 
eyes ; of the poise of her head under the apple-blos- 
som canopy. It was a trifle embarrassing to return 
an hour later and buy a blue parasol for Emma Jane 
Perkins, but it seemed increasingly difficult, as the 
years went on, to remember her existence at aU 
the proper times and seasons. 



REBECCA 367 

This is Rebecca's fairy story, copied the next day 
and given to Emily Maxwell just as she was going to 
her room for the night. She read it with tears in her 
eyes and then sent it to Adam Ladd, thinking he had 
earned a share in it, and that he deserved a glimpse 
of the girl's hudding imagination, as well as of her 
grateful young heart. , 

i 
A FAIRY STORY 

There was once a tired and rather poverty- 
stricken Princess who dwelt in a cottage on the 
great highway between two cities. She was not as 
unhappy as thousands of others ; indeed, she had 
mucfa to be grateful for, but the life she lived and 
the work she did were full hard for one who was 
fashioned slenderly. 

Now the cottage stood by the edge of a great 
green forest where the wind was always singing 
in the branches and the sunshine filtering through 
the leaves. 

And one day when the Princess vis sitting by the 
wayside quite spent by her bbor in the fields, she 
saw a golden chariot rolling down the King's High- 
way, and in it a person who cnutd be none other than 
somebody's I'airy Godmother on her way to the 
Court, The chariot halted at her door, and though 
the Princess had read of such beneficent personages, 
she never dreamed for an instant that one of tbctn 
could ever alight at her cottage. 



268 REBECCA 

'^ If you are tired, poor little Princess, why do yoa 
not go into the cool green forest and rest ? " asked 
the Fairy Godmother. 

"Because I have no time," she answered. "I 
must go back to my plough." 

*' Is that your plough leaning by the tree, and is 
it not too heavy ? " 

" It is heavy," answered the Princess, ** but I love 
to turn the hard earth into soft furrows and know 
that I am making good soil wherein my seeds may 
grow. When I feel the weight too much, I try to 
think of the harvest" 

The golden chariot passed on, and the two talked 
no more together that day ; nevertheless the King's 
messengers were busy, for they whispered one word 
into the ear of the Fairy Godmother and another 
into the ear of the Princess, though so faintly that 
neither of them realized that the King had spoken. 

The next morning a strong man knocked at the 
cottage door, and doffing his hat to the Princess 
said : " A golden chariot passed me yesterday, and 
one within it flung me a purse of ducats, saying : 
*Go out into the King's Highway and search until 
you find a cottage and a heavy plough leaning against 
a tree near by. ICntcr and say to the Princess whom 
you will find there : " I will guide the plough and 
you must go and rest, or walk in the cool gr<^en 
forest ; for this is the command of your Fairy God- 
mother." 



REBECCA 



«S9 



And the same thing happened every day, and 
every day the tired frioccss walked in the grcea 
wood. Many times she caught the glitter of the 
chariot and tan into Ihe Ilighirity to gh-e thanks 
to the Fairy Godmother ; but she was never fleet 
enough to reach the spot She could only stand 
with eager eyes and longing heart u the chariot 
passed by. Yet she never failed to catch a smile, 
and sometimes a word or two floated back to her, 
worda that sounded like : " I would not be thanked. 
We are all children of the same King, and I am only 
his messenger." 

Now as the Princess walked daily in the green 
forest, hearing the wind singing in the branches and 
seeing the sunlight filter through the bttlce-wotk o( 
green leaves, there came unto her thoughts that had 
lain asleep in the stifling air of the cottage and the 
weariness of guiding the plough. And by and by 
she took a needle from her ginlle and pricked the 
Ibougbts on the leaves of the trees and sent them 
into the air to float hither and thither. And it came 
to pass that people bq;an to pick them up, and hold* 
ing Ibem against the sun, to read what was written 
on them, and this was because the simple little 
words on the leaves were only, after all, a part td 
one of the King's messages, such as the Fairy God- 
mother dropped continually from her golden chariot. 

But the miracle of the story ties deeper than aH 



S70 REBECCA 

Whenever the Princess pricked the wofds upam 
the leaves she added a thought of her Faiiy God> 
mother, and folding it dose within» sent the leaf out 
on the breeze to iBoat hither and thither and Call 
where it would And many other little Princesses 
felt the same impulse and did the same thing. And 
as nothing is ever lost in the King's Dominion, so 
these thoughts and wishes and hopes* being full 
ci love and gratitude^ had no power to die* but took 
unto themselves other shapes and lived on forever. 
They cannot be seen, our vision is too weak ; not 
heard, our hearing is too dull ; but they can some* 
times be felt, and we know not what force is stir- 
ring our hearts to nobler aims. 

The end of the story is not come, but it may be 
that some day when the Fairy Godmother has a mes* 
sage to deliver in person straight to the King, he will 
say : " Your face I know ; your voice, your thoughts, 
and your heart I have heard the rumble of your 
chariot wheels on the great Highway, and I knew 
that you were on the King's business. Here in my 
hand is a sheaf of messages from every quarter of 
my kingdom. They were delivered by weary and 
footsore travelers, who said that they could never 
have reached the gate in safety had it not been for 
your help and inspiration. Read them, that you 
may know when and where and how you sped the 
King's serN'ice." 

And when the Fairy Godmother reads them, it 



REBECCA 



ayi 



may be that sweet odors will rise Crom the pagei, 
and half-forgotten memories will stir the air ; but 
in the gladness of the moment nothing will be half 
BO lovely as the voice of the King when he said : 
" Read, and know bow you sped the King's service" 
Rebecca Roweha Rahdau* 



XXVI 

-OVER THE TEACUPS" 

THE summer term at Wareham bad ended^ 
and Huldah Meserve, Dick Carter, and 
Living Perkins had finished school* leav- 
ing Rebecca and Enuna Jane to represent River- 
boro in the year to come. Delia Weeks was at home 
from Lewiston on a brief visit, and Mrs. Robinson 
was celebrating the occasion by a small and select 
party, the particular day having been set because 
strawberries were ripe and there was a rooster that 
wanted killing. Mrs. Robinson explained this to her 
husband, and requested that he cat his dinner on 
the carpenter's bench in the shed, as the party was 
to be a ladies' affair. 

"All right ; it won't be any loss to me," said Mr. 
Robinson. ** Give me beans, that *s all I ask. When 
a rooster wants to be killed, I want somebody else 
to eat him, not me f " 

Mrs. Robinson had company only once or twice 
a year, and was generally much prostrated for sev- 
eral days afterward, the struggle between pride and 
parsimony being quite too great a strain upon her. 
It was necessar)', in order to maintain her standing 
in the community, to furnish a good "set out," yet 
the extra\^gance of the proceeding goaded her from 




REBECCA 



>73 



\ 



the tint moment she began to Mir the nurUe cake 
to the moment wbcn the feast appeared upon the 

The rooster bad been boDIng steadQy over a tiow 
fire since morning, but auch was bis power of resist- 
ance that his shape was as firm and handsome in 
the pot as on the first moment when be was tow- 
ered into it 

" He ain't goin' to give up ! " said Alice, peering 
nervously under the cover. " and he looks like a 
scarecrow." 

" We '0 see whether he gives up or not wbeo I 
take a sharp knife to him," her mother answered; 
" and as to his looks, a platter full o' gravy makea 
a sight o' difference with old roosters, and 1 11 put 
dumplings round the aidgo ; they're turrible fiDin\ 
though they don't belong with boiled chicken." 

The rooster did indeed make an impreuive show- 
Rigi lying in bis border of dumplings, and the dish 
was much complimented when it was borne in by 
Alke. Thb was fortunate, as the chorus of admini- 
tkm ceased abruptly when the ladies he^pa to eat 
the fowl 

" I was glad you could git over to Huldy's gnd- 
oation. Delta," aaid Mrs. Meserve. who sat at the 
foot of the table and helped the chicken while Mra, 
Robinson poured coffee at the other end. She was 
a fit mother for Huldah, being much the most stylish 
penoD ia tUrcrboro ; iU health tnd dren vatt. 



274 REBECCA 

indeed, her two chief enjoyments in life. It wus 
rumored that her elaborately curled " front piece *• 
had cost five dollars, and that it was sent into Port* 
land twice a year to be dressed and frizzed ; but 
it is extremely difficult to discover the precise facts 
in such cases, and a conscientious historian always 
prefers to warn a too credulous reader against 
imbibing as gospel truth something that might be 
the basest perversion of it As to Mrs. Meserve's 
appearance, have you ever, in earlier years, sought 
the comforting society of the cook and hung over 
the kitchen table while she rolled out sugar gin- 
gerbread? Perhaps then, in some unaccustomed 
moment of amiability, she made you a dough lady, 
cutting the outline deftly with her pastry knife, and 
then, at last, placing the human stamp upon it by 
sticking in two black currants for eyes. Just call to 
mind the face of that sugar gingerbread lady and 
you will have an exact portrait of Huldah's mother, 
— Mis' Peter Meserve, she was generally called, 
there being several others. 

"How'd you like Huldy's dress, Delia?" she 
asked, snapping the elastic in her black jet bracelets 
after an irritating fashion she had. 

** I thought it was about the handsomest of any," 
answered Delia; "and her composition was first 
rate. It was the only real amusin' one there was, 
and she read it so loud and clear we did n't miss 
any of it ; most o' the girls spoke as if they had 
hasty puddin* in their mouths." 




REBECCA 



3"S 



*■ That wu the composition »he wrote (or Adaa 
Ladd's prize," explained Mrs. Mescrvc, " and Ibey 
do say she'd 'a' come out first, 'stead o' fourth, 
if her subject bad been difrcnt There was three 
ministers and three deacons on the comnuttce, and 
it was only natural tbey should choose a serious 
piece ; hers was too lively to suit 'em." 

Huldah's inspiring theme had been Boys, and she 
certainly had a fund of knowledge and experience 
that fitted her to write moat intclligeatly npon iL It 
was vastly popular with the audience, who enjoyed 
the rather cheap jokes and aBusions with which it 
coruscated ; but judged from a purely Ittervy stand- 
point, it left much to be desired. 

" Rebecca's piece wan't read out loud, but the 
one that took the boy's prize was ; why was that ? " 
asked Mrs. Robinsoo. 

" Because she wan't gradoatin',** cxptained Mr& 
Cobb, "and couldn't take part in the exercises; 
it '11 be printed, with Herbert Dunn's, in the school 
paper." 

" I 'm glad o' that, for 1 11 never believe it waa 
better 'n Huldy's till I read it with my own eyes ; 
it seems as if the prize ought to 'a' gone to one ol 
the seniors," 

*■ Well, no, Marthy, rut if Ladd offered it to any 
of the two upper classes that wanted 1o try for it," 
argued Mrs. Robinson. " Tbey say they asked him 
to give out the prizes, and he rduaed, up and down 



276 REBECCA 

It seems odd, his bein' so rich and travelin* about 
all over the country, that he was too modest to git 

up on that platform." 

" My Huldy could 'a' done it, and not winked an 
eyelash/' observed Mrs. Meserve complacently; a 
remark which there seemed no disposition on the 
part of any of the company to controvert 

" It was complete, though, the governor happen- 
ing to be there to see his niece graduate," said Delia 
Weeks. " Land ! he looked elegant ! They say he *s 
only six feet, but he might 'a' been sixteen, and he 
certainly did make a fine speech." 

" Did you notice Rebecca, how white she was, 
and how she trembled when she and Herbert Dunn 
stood there while the governor was praisin' 'em ? 
He'd read her composition, too, for he wrote the 
Sawyer girls a letter about it." This remark was 
from the sympathetic Mrs. Cobb. 

" I thought 't was kind o' foolish, his makin' so 
much of her when it wan't her graduation," ob- 
jected Mrs. Meserve; **layin' his hand on her head 
'n' all that, as if he was a Pope pronouncin' benedic- 
tion. But there ! I 'm glad the prize come to River- 
boro 't any rate, and a han'somer one never was 
give out from the Wareham platform. I p^uess there 
ain't no end to Adam I^dd's money. The fifty dol- 
lars would 'a* been good enough, but he must needs 
go and put it into those elegant purses." 

" I set so fur back I could 'nt see *em fairly/* 




i 



REBECCA 277 

oompUined Delia, "and now Rebecca has taken 
hen home to show her mother. " 

" It was kind ot a gold net bog with a cbafai," said 
Mrs. Perkins, " and there was five ten-doU&r gold 
pieces in it Herbert Dunn's was put in a fine 
leather waUet." 

"How long is Rebecca gotn' to stay at the farm?" 
asked Delia. 

" Till they get over Hannah's bein' married, and 
get the house to rutrnin' without her," answered 
Mrs. Perkins. " It seems aa if Hannah might '»' 
waited a little longer. Anrelia was set against her 
goin' away while Rebecca was at tcbool, but she'i 
obstinate as a mule, Hannah b. and she Joit took 
her own way in spite o( her mother. She 's been 
doin* her sewin' for a year ; the awfullest coarse 
cotton cloth she had. but she 's nearly blinded her- 
self with fine stttcbin' and rafflin* and tuckin'. DU 
you hear about the quilt she made t It 's white, and 
has a big bunch o' grapes in the centre, quQted by 
a thimble top. Then there 'a a row of drcle-bor> 
derin' round the grapes, and she done them the site 
of a spool The next border was done with a sherry 
glass, and the last with a port glass, an' all outside 
o' thai was solid stitchin' done In straight rows ; 
she 'a goin* to exhibit it at the county fair." 

She 'd better 'a' been takin' in sewin' and earain' 

money, 'stead o' blindin' her eyes on such foolisb- 

as quilted counterpanes," sokl Mrs. Cobbk 



a/S REBECCA 

** The next thing you know that mortgage will be 
foreclosed on Mis' Randall, and she and the chil- 
dren won't have a roof over their heads." 

** Don't they say there 's a good chance of the 
railroad goin' through her place ? " asked Mrs. Rob- 
inson. ^If it does, she '11 git as much as the farm 
b worth and more. Adam Ladd 's one of the stock- 
holders, and everything is a success he takes holt 
of. They 're fightin' it in Augusty, but I 'd back 
Ladd agin any o' them l^islaters if he thought he 
was in the right." 

** Rebecca '11 have some new clothes now/' said 
Delia, " and the land knows she needs 'em. Seems 
to me the Sawyer girls are gittin' turrible near ! " 

" Rebecca won't have any new clothes out o' the 
prize money," remarked Mrs. Perkins, ** for she sent 
it away the next day to pay the interest on that 
mortgage." 

" Poor little girl ! " exclaimed Delia Weeks. 

" She might as well help along her folks as spend 
it on foolishness," affirmed Mrs. Robinson. " I think 
she was mighty lucky to git it to pay the interest 
with, but she *s probably like all the Randalls ; it 
was easy come, easy go, with them." 

" That *s more than could be said of the Sawyer 
stock," retorted Mrs. Perkins; "seems like they 
enjoyed savin* more 'n an}'thing in the world, and 
it 's gainin' on Mirandy sence her shock." 

'' I don't believe it was a shock ; it stands to 



REBECCA 279 

reason she 'd never 'a' got up after it and been aa 
smart as she is now ; we had three o' the worst 
shocks in our (amtly that there ever was on this 
river, and I know every symptom of 'cm better 'n 
the doctors." And Mrs. Peter Meserve shook her 
head wisely. 

*• Mirandy '» smart enough," nid Mrs, Cobb, 
"but you notice she stays right to home, and she's 
more close-moutbcd than ex'cr she was ; never took 
a mite o' pride in the price, as I could see, ihoqgh 
It pretty nigh drove Jeremiah out o' his senses. I 
thought I should 'a' died o' shame when he cried 
'Hooray ! ' and swung his straw hat when the giv< 
emor shook hands with Rebecca. It's lucky he 
could n't get (ur into the church and had to stand 
back by the door, for as it was, he made a spectacle 
of himself. My suspicion is "— and here every tady 
stopped eating and sat up straight — "that the 
Sawyer giils have lost money. Tbey don't know a 
thing about business *n' never did, and Miiandy *t 
too secretive and contrairy to a&k advice" 

"The most 0' what ihey 'vc got u in gov*neot 
bonds, I always heard, and you can't lose money 
on them. Jane had the timber land left her, an' 
Mirandy hod the brick huosc She probably took 
It awful hard that Rebecca's lifty dolhra had to be 
swallowed up in a mortgage, 'stead of goin' towanls 
school expenses. The more I think of it, the more 
I think Adam Ladd intended Rebecca sbouM ha«« 



j8o REBECCA 

that prise wtoi he gave it** The mnid of Hnldah's 
mother ran towards the idea that her daqg^iter^s 
righti had been assailed. 

"Land, Marthy, what foolishness yon talkl* ex- 
claimed lira. Perkins; ''yon don't suppose he 
could ten what composition the committee was 
going to dhoose; and why should he offer another 
fifty dollars for a boy's prize, if he wan*t interested 
in hdpin* along the school ? He *s give Emma Jane 
about the same present as Rebecca every Christ- 
mas for five years ; that's the way he does." 

** Some time he 'U forget one of 'em and give to 
the other, or drop 'em both and give to some new 
girl I" said Delia Weeks, with an experience bom 
of fifty years of spinsterhood. 

"Like as not/' assented Mrs. Peter Meserve» 
" though it 's easy to see he ain't the marryin' kind. 
There 's men that would marry once a year if their 
wives would die fast enough, and there 's men that 
seems to want to live alone." 

** If Ladd was a Mormon, I guess he could have 
every woman in North Riverboro that 's a suitable 
age, accordin' to what my cousins say," remarked 
Mrs. Perkins. 

" T ain't likely he could be ketchcd by any North 
Riverboro girl," demurred Mrs. Robinson ; •* not 
when he prob'bly has had the pick o' Boston. I 
guess Marthy bit it when she said there's men 
that ain't the marryin' kind." 




REBECCA 



ail 



*T would nt tntst any of 'cm when Miss Right 
cones nlong t " laughed Mrs. Cobb genially. " You 
never can tell what 'n' who 's goin' to pleaae 'em. 
You know Jeremiah's contrairy horse, Buster ? He 
won't let an>'bo<ly put the bit into his mouth if he 
can help it Hell light Jerry, and flgbt me, till he 
has to give in. Rebecca did n't know nolhin' about 
his tricks, and the other day she went int' the 
bam to hitch up. I followed right along, knowing 
she 'd have trouUe with the headstall, and I dedare 
if she wan't pattin' Buster's nose and tallun' to 
him, and when she put her little fingers into fail 
moDth he opoted it so fur I thought he 'd swaller 
ber, for sure. He jest smacked his lips o%-er the fait 
as if 't was a lump o* sugar. ' Land, Rebecca,* I 
says, 'how'd you persuade him to take the Utf* 
' I did n't,' she says. ' be seemed to want it ; per- 
haps he's tired oC his stall and wants to gel out in 
the (reih air.'" 



XXVII 

•THE VISION SPLENDID* 

A YEAR bad dapsed since Adam Ladd*s 
prize had been discussed over the teacups 
in Riverboro. The months had come and 
gone» and at length the great day had dawned for 
Rebecca, — the day to which she had been looking 
forward for five years^ as the first goal to be reached 
on her little journey through the world. School- 
days were ended, and the mystic function known 
to the initiated as '* graduation '* was about to be 
celebrated ; it was even now heralded by the sun 
dawning in the eastern sky. Rebecca stole softly 
out of bed, crept to the window, threw open the 
blinds, and welcomed the rosy light that meant a 
cloudless morning. Even the sun looked different 
somehow, — larger, redder, more important than 
usual ; and if it were really so, there was no mem- 
ber of the graduating class who would have thought 
it strange or unbecoming, in view of all the cir- 
cumstances. Emma Jane stirred on her pillow, 
woke, and seeing Rebecca at the window, came and 
knelt on the floor beside her. " It *s going to be 
pleasant ! " she sighed gratefully. ** If it was n't 
wicked, I could thank the Lord, I 'm so relieved in 
mind 1 Did you sleep ? " 



REBECCA 393 

"Not much ; the words of my class poem kept 
running through my bead, and the accompaniments 
of the songs; and worse than anything, Mary 
Queen of Scots' prayer in Latin ; it seemed as if 



were bumed into my brain." 

No one who is unfamiliar with life in rural 
neighborhoods can imagine the gravity, the impor- 
tance, the solemnity of this last day of school. In 
the matter of preparation, wealth of detail, and gen- 
eral excitement it far surpasses a wedding ; for that 
is commonly a simple aifair in the country, some- 
times even beginning and ending in a visit to the 
parsonage. Nothing quite equals graduation in the 
minds of the graduates thcmselvL-s, their families, 
and the younger students, unless it be the inaugu- 
ration of a governor at the State Capitol. Ware- 
ham, then, was shaken to its very centre on this 
day of days. Mothers and fathers of the scholars, 
as well as relatives to the remotest generation, had 
been coming on the train and driving into the town 
since breakfast time ; old pupils, both married and 
single, with and without families, streamed back to 
the dear old village. The two livery stables were 
crowded with vehicles of all sorts, and lines of bug- 
gies and wagons were drawn up along the sides of 
the shady roads, the horses switching their tails in 



384 



REBECCA 



luxurious idleness. The streets were fiDed with 
people wearing their best clothes, and the fashioiu 
included not only " the latest thing," but the well- 
preserved relic of a bygone day. There were all 
sorts and conditions of men and women, for there 
were sons and daughters of storekeepers, lawyers, 
butchers, doctors, shoemakers, professors, mia- 
isters, and farmers at the Wareham schools, eithcr 
as boarders or day scholars. In the seminary build- 
ing there was an excitement so deep and profound 
that it expressed itself in a kind of hushed silence, 
a transient suspension of life, as those roost inter- 
ested approached the crucial moment. The femi- 
nine giaduates-to-be were seated in their own 
bedrooms, dressed with a completeness of detail 
to which all their past lives seemed to have been 
but a prelude. At least, this was the case with their 
bodies ; but their beads, owing to the extreme heat 
of the day, were one and all ornamented with leads, 
or papers, or dozens of little braids, to issue later 
ia every sort of curl known to the girl of that 
period. Rolling the hair on leads or psfters was a 
favorite method of attaining the desired result, and 
though it often entailed a sleepless night, then) 
were those who gladly paid the price. Othen, i 
whose veins the blood of mart)Ts did not flow, i 
stitutcd rags for leads and pretended that I 
made a more natural and less woolly curL 
however, will melt the proudest bead and i 




REBECCA 



285 



to 6ddUDg string the finest product of the wav- 
ing-pin : so anztaus mothers were stationed over 
their o£Espring. waging palm-leaf fan*, it having 
been decided that the fttipreme insuuit when the 
town clock stmck ten should be the one choscD 
for releasing the prisoners from their self-iinposcd 
tortures. 

Dotted or ptaio Swiss muaUo was the (sTorite 
garb, though there were those who were steamtog 
In white cashmere or alpaca, because in some casa 
■uch frocks were thought more useful afterwarda. 
Blue and pink waist ribbons were lying over tbe 
backs of chairs, and the girl who bad a Roman 
tub was praying that she might be kept from 
vanity and pride. 

Tbe way to any graduating dress at all bad not 
•eemed clear to Rebecca untU a month before. 
Then, in company with Emma jane, she vi&ited the 
Perkins attic, found piece after piece of white but- 
ter-moslin or cheesecloth, and decided that, at a 
pinch. It wotOd do. Tbe " rich blacksmith's dsogb- 
ter" cast tbe thought of dotted Swiss behind ber, 
and elected to follow Rebecca in cheesecloth as 
she had in higher matters ; straightway devising 
costumes that included lucb drawing of threads, 
such hemstitching and pin-tucking, such Insertions 
of fine thread tatting that, in order to be fioisbed, 
Rebecca's dress was given out in sections, — tbe 
■ash to Hannah, waist and sleeves to Mrs. Cobb, 



286 REBECCA 

aHd skirt to aunt Jane. The stitches that went 
into the despised material» worth only three or 
four pennies a yard» made the dresses altogether 
lovely, and as for the folds and lines into which 
they fell, they could have given points to satins 
and brocades. 

The two girls were waiting in their room alone» 
Emma Jane in rather a tearful state of mind. She 
kept thinking that it was the last day that they 
would be together in this altogether sweet and 
dose intimacy. The beginning of the end seemed 
to have dawned, for two positions had been offered 
Rebecca by Mr. Morrison the day before : one in 
which she would play for singing and calisthenics, 
and superintend the piano practice of the younger 
girls in a boarding-school ; the other an assistant's 
place in the Edgewood High School. Both were 
very modest as to salary, but the former included 
educational advantages that Miss Maxwell thought 
might be valuable. 

Rebecca's mood had passed from that of excite- 
ment into a sort of exaltation, and when the first 
bell rang through the corridors announcing that in 
five minutes the class would proceed in a body to 
the church for the exercises, she stood motionless 
and speechless at the window with her hand on 
her heart. 

" It is coming, Emmie," she said presently ; " do 
you remember in The Mill on the Floss, when 



^ Mats 



REBECCA 



287 



I 



Maggie Tulliver dosed the golden gatet of child- 
hood behind her ? I can almost see them swing ; 
almost hear them cUng ; ami I can't tell whether I 
am glad or bott}'." 

" I should n't care how they swong or clanged," 
said EmmA Juie, " if only you and I were on the 
same side of the gate ; but vre shan't bc;, I know 
we shan't 1 " 

"Emmie, don't dare to cry, for 1 'm just on the 
brink myself! U only you were graduating with 
me ; that 's my only sorrow I There I I hear the 
rumble of the wheels I People will be seeing our 
grand surpriae nowl Hug me ODce (or luck, dear 
Emmie ; a careful hug, remembering our butter- 
muslin (ntilty I " 

Ten minutes hter, Adam Ladd. who had just 
arrived front Portland ax>d was wending his way to 
the church, came suddenly into the main street and 
stopped short under a tree by the wayside, riveted 
to the spot by a scene of picturesque kivelinett 
such as bis eyes bad aeklom witnessed before. Tbe 
class of which Rebecca was prwfaieQl was not 
likely to follow accepted ctutomi. Instead of nuudi- 
ing two by two from the seminary to the church, 
they bod elected to proceed thither by royal cbarioL 
A haycait had been decked with green vines and 
bunches of long-stemmed fieU dailies, those gay 
darlings of New England meadows. Ewry inch of 
tbe nil, tbe body, even tbe spokes, ill were t 



388 REBECCA 

with yellow and green and white. There were twi 
white horses, flower-trimmed reins, and in the Soni] 
bower, seated on maple boughs, were the twelve 
girls of the class, while the ten boys marched on 
either side of the vehicle, wearing buttonhole boo* 
quets of daisies, the class flower, 

Rebecca drove, seated on a green-covered bench 
that looked not unlike a throne. No girl clad 
in white muslin, no happy girl of seventeen, ia 
plain ; and the twelve little country maids, from 
the vantage ground of their setting, looked beaa- 
tiful, as the June sunlight filtered down on tbeir 
uncovered heads, showing their bright eyes, tbeir 
fresh cheeks, their smiles, and their dimples. 

Rebecca, Adam thought, as he took off his hat 
and saluted the pretty panorama. — Rebecca, with 
her tall slendcmess, her thoughtful brow, the fire 
of young ioy in her face, her fillet of dark braided 
hair, might have been a young Muse or Sil^l ; and 
the flowery hayrack, with its freight of blooming 
girlhood, might have been painted as an allegorical 
picture of The Morning of Life. It all passed htm, 
as be stood under the elms in the old village street 
where his mother had walked half a century ago^ 
and he was turning with the crowd towards the 
church when he heard a little sob. Behind a hed^e 
in the garden near where he was standing was a 
forlorn person in white, whose neat nose, chestDut 
hair, and blue eyes he seemed to know. Hest^fMd 



J 



r 



REBECCA 



>«9 



{nside the gitc and said, ' What 'a wroog. Miss 
Eaaaf" 

"Ob, U it you, Mr. Laddf Rebecca would d'C 
let me cry (or fear of ipoiling my looks, but I must 
have )ust one chance before I go in. I can be at 
homely aa I like, alter all, (or I only have to sing 
with the school ; I *m not graduating, I 'm just 
leaving I Not that I mind that ; it 's only being 
separated from Rebecca that 1 never can stand I " 

The two walked along together, Adam comfort- 
ing the disconsolate Emma Jane, unt3 they reached 
the old meeting-house where the Commencement 
exercises were always held. The interior, with 
its decorations of yellow, green, and white, waa 
crowded, the air hot and breathless, the essays and 
songs and recitations precisely like all others that 
have been since the world began. One always fears 
that the platform may sink under the weight U 
youthful platitadcs uttered on such occasions: yet 
one can never be properly critical, because the sigbt 
of the boys and girls themsdixs, those young and 
hopeful makers o( ttHaorrow, diaanns one's scorn. 
We yawn detpentely at the essays, but oar heuts 
go out to the essayists, all the same, for " the vision 
splendid " is sbiotng in their cye». and there is DO 
fear of "th* inevitable yoke " that the years are so 
surely bringing them. 

Rebecca saw Hannah and her husband in the 
aadicDGt; devoid John aodcowln AnailMkaad 



290 REBECCA 

felt a pang at the absence of her mother, thoogli 
she had known there was no possibility of seeing 
her ; for poor Aurelia was kept at Sunnybrook by 
cares of children and farm, and lack of money 
either for the journey or for suitable dress. The 
Cobbs she saw too. No one» indeed, could fail to 
see uncle Jerry ; for he shed tears more than once, 
and in the intervals between the essays descanted 
to his neighbors concerning the marvelous gifts 
of one of the graduating class whom he had known 
ever since she was a child ; in fact, had driven her 
from Maplewood to Riverboro when she left her 
home, and he had told mother that same night that 
there wan't nary rung on the ladder o' fame that 
that child would n't mount before she got through 
with it. 

The Cobbs, then, had come, and there were 
other Riverboro faces, but where was aunt Jane, 
in her black silk made over especially for this oc- 
casion ? Aunt Miranda had not intended to come, 
she knew, but where, on this day of days, was her 
beloved aunt Jane ? However, this thought, like 
all others, came and went in a flash, for the whole 
morning was like a series of magic lantern pic- 
tures, crossing and recrossing her field of vision. 
She played, she sang, she recited Queen Mary's 
Latin prayer, like one in a dream, only brought to 
consciousness by meeting Mr. Aladdin's eyes as 
she spoke the last line. Then at the end of the 







^^"^^P 




REBECCA 



291 



prognmme cimc her class poem, Makers of To- 
morrow : and there, as on many a former occasion, 
bcr perBOoality played so great a part that ibe 
seemed to be uttering Miltonlc scnlimcnts instead 
of Bchool-gtrl verse. Her voice, her eyes, her body 
breathed conviction, earnestness, emotion ; and 
when she left the platform the audience felt that 
they had listened to a masterpiece. Most o( ber 
bearers knew little of Cartyle or Erocrson, or they 
might have remembered that the one said, " We 
are all poets when we read a poem well." and the 
other, "Tis the good reader makes the good 
book." 

It was over I The diplomas had been presented, 
and each girl, after giving furtive touches to ber 
hair, sly tweaks to ber muslin skirts, and caressing 
pats to her sash, had gone (orward to receive the 
roll of parchment with a bow that bad been the 
tubject of anxious thought for weeks. Rounds o( 
applause greeted each graduate at this thrilllDE 
moment, and Jeremiah Cobb's bdtavior, when Re< 
becca came forward, was the talk of Warcham and 
Kivcrboro for days. Old Mrs. Webb avowed that 
be, in the space of two boars, had worn out her 
pew more — the carpet, the cushions, and wood- 
work — than she had by sitting in it forty yean^ 
Yea, it was over, and after the crowd had thinned 
a little, Adam Ladd made his way to the platfono. 

Kdiecca tamed from speaking to some atna- 



1 




^" REBECCA 

id met him in the aisle. " Oh, Mr. Aladdin, 
n so glad you could come I Tell me " — and »he 
:ec at him half shyly, for his approval was dearer 
n, and more difficult to win, than that of the 
rs — " tell me, Mr. Aladdin, — were you sat- 
ed?" 

' More than satisfied 1 " be said ; " glad I met 
; child, proud I know the girl, longing to meet 
: woman 1 " 



xxvin 

•TH' INEVITABLE YOKE" 

REBECCA'S heart beat high at thb sweet 
praise from her hero's lips, but before she 
^ had found words to thank him, Mr. and 
Mrs. Cobby who had been modestly biding their 
time in a comer, approached her and she introduced 
them to Mr. Ladd. 

" Where, where is aunt Jane ? " she cried, holding 
aunt Sarah's hand on one side and uncle Jerry's 
on the other. 

" I 'm sorry, lovey, but we 've got bad news for 
you." 

** Is aunt Miranda worse ? She is ; I can see it 
by your looks ; " and Rebecca's color faded. 

''She had a second stroke yesterday morning 
jest when she was helpin' Jane lay out her things 
to come here to-day. Jane said you wan't to know 
anything about it till the exercises was all over, and 
we promised to keep it secret till then." 

" I will go right home with you, aunt Sarah. I 
must just run to tell Miss Maxwell, for after I had 
packed up to-morrow I was going to Brunswick with 
her. Poor aunt Miranda I And I have been so gay 
and happy all day, except that I was longing for 
mother and aunt Jane.'* 



294 REBECCA 

''There ain't no harm in bein' gay, lovey ; that 's 
what Jane wanted you to be. And Miranda 's got 
her speech back, for your aunt has just sent a letter 
sayin' she's better; and I 'm goin' to set up to-nigfatt 
so you can stay here and have a good sleep, and get 
your things together comfortably to^norrow/• 

" I '11 pack your trunk for you, Becky dear, and 
attend to all our room things," said Emma Jane, 
who had come towards the group and heard the 
sorrowful news from the brick house 

They moved into one of the quiet side pewa^ 
where Hannah and her husband and John joined 
them. From time to time some straggling acquaint- 
ance or old schoolmate would come up to congratu- 
late Rebecca and ask why she had hidden herself 
in a comer. Then some member of the class would 
call to her excitedly, reminding her not to be late 
at the picnic luncheon, or begging her to be early 
at the class party in the evening. All this had an 
air of unreality to Rebecca. In the midst of the 
happy excitement of the last two days, when " blush- 
ing honors " had been falling thick upon her, and 
behind the delicious exaltation of the morning, had 
been the feeling that the condition was a transient 
one, and that the burden, the struggle, the anxiety, 
would soon loom again on the horizon. She longed 
to steal away into the woods with dear old Joiin, 
grown so manly and handsome, and get some ccui^ 
fort from him. 



REBECCA 395 

Meantime Adam Ladd and Mr. Cobb bad been 
having an animated conversatioa. 

" I s'posc up to lioston, girls like that one are as 
thick as blackb'rics ? " uncle Jerry said, jerking his 
head interrogatively in Rebecca's direction. 

" They may be," smiled Adam, taking in the old 
man's mood ; " only I don't happen to know one." 

" My eyesight bein' poor 's the reason she looked 
han'somcst of any girl on the platform, I s'posc.' " 

"There 's no failure in my eyes," responded Adam, 
"but that was how the thing seemed to me ! " 

" What did you think of her voice .* Anything 
extry about it.'" 

"Made the others sound poor and thin, I 
thought." 

" Weil, I "m glad to hear your opinion, you bein' 
a traveled man, (or mother says I 'm foolish 'bout 
Kebecky and hcv been sence the fust. Mother 
scolds me (or spoiliii' her, but I notice mother ain't 
fur behind when it comes to spoilin*. Land ! it 
made me sick, thinkin' o' them parents travelin' 
miles to sec their young ones graduate, and then 
when they got here hevin" to compare 'cm with Re- 
becky. Good-by, Mr. Ladd, drop in some day when 
you come to Rivcrboro." 

" I will," said Adam, shaking the old man's hand 
cordially ; " perhaps to-morrow if I drive Rebecca 
home, as I shall offer to do. Do you think Miss 
Sawyer's condition is serious t " 



996 REBECCA 

«WdL the doctor don't seem to kaoir ; but aofi 
how she's paralyzed, and shell never walk for 
again, poor soull She ain't lost her speech ; that H 
be a comfort to her." 

Adam left the church, and in crossing the oom> 
mon came upon Miss BfazwcU doing the hoooia 
of the institution, as she passed from group to 
group of strangers and guests. Knowing that 
she was deeply interested in all Rebecca's plan% he 
told her, as he drew her asid^ that the giil would 
have to leave Wardiam for Rhrerboro the neit 
day. 

** That is almost more than I can bear I " nrlaimcJ 
Miss Maxwell, sitting down on a bench and stabbing 
the greensward with her parasoL ** It seems to me 
Rebecca never has any respite. I had so many 
plans for her thb next month in fitting her for her 
position, and now she will settle down to house- 
work again, and to the nursing of that poor, sick« 
cross old aunt" 

*' If it bad not been for the cross old aunt, Re- 
becca would still have been at Sunnybrook ; and 
from the standpoint of educational advantages, or 
indeed advantages of any sort, she might as well 
have been in the backwoods," returned Adam. 

'' That is true ; I was vexed when I spoke, for I 
thought an easier and happier day was dawning for 
my prodigy and pearl." 

^Otr prodigy and pearl," corrected Adam. 




L 



REBECCA 

" Ob, yes ! " ibe Uugbed " I always forget that 
it pleases yoa to pretend you discovered Rebecca." 

'* 1 believe, though, that happier days are dawnlDg 
for her," continued Adam, " It roust be a secret 
for the pt-escnt, but Mrs. Randall's farm will b« 
bought by the new railroad. We must have right 
of way through the land, and the station will be 
built on her property. She will receive six thousaikd 
dollars, which, though not a fortune, will yidd her 
three or four hundred doUan a year, if she will 
allow me to invest it for her. There is a mortgage 
on the land ; that paid, and Rebecca self-supportini^ 
the mother ought to push the education of tbe otd* 
est boy, who is a fine, ambitious fellow. He should 
be taken away from farm work and settled at hte 
studies." 

" We might form ourvelvet into a Randall Pio- 
tective Agency, Limited," mused Miss MaxwdL ** I 
confess I want Rebecca to have a career." 

" I don't," said Adam promptly. 

" Of course you don't Men have no interest in 
the careers of women I But 1 know Rebecca better 
than you." 

" Yon understand ber mind better, but not neces- 
sarily bet bearl. You ar« coosideTTng ber for the 
moment as prodigy ; I am thinlring o( ber more aa 
pearl" 

•• WcH," sighed MIm MaxweU whimaicany. " pro> 
digy or pearl, the Randall Protective Agency may 



mk 



298 REBECCA 

pull Rebecca in opposite directions^ but neverth^ 
less she will follow her saint" 

*' That will content me/' said Adam gravely. 

*' Particularly if the saint beckons your way." 
And Miss Maxwell looked up and smiled provok- 
ingly. 

Rebecca did not see her aunt Miranda till she 
had been at the brick house for several days. Mi- 
randa steadily refused to have any one but Jane in 
the room until her face had rq;ained its natural 
look, but her door was always ajar, and Jane fancied 
she liked to hear Rebecca's quick, light step. Her 
mind was perfectly clear now, and, save that she 
could not move, she was most of the time quite free 
from pain, and alert in every nerve to all that was 
going on within or without the house. " Were the 
windfall apples being picked up for sauce ; were the 
potatoes thick in the hills ; was the com tosselin* 
out ; were they cuttin' the upper field ; were they 
keepin' fly-paper laid out ever)' whores ; were there 
any ants in the dairy ; was the kindlin' wood holdin' 
out ; had the bank sent the cowpons ? '* 

Poor Miranda Saw)'er ! Hovering on the verge 
of the great beyond, — her body " struck" and no 
longer under control of her iron will, — no divine 
visions floated across her tired brain ; nothing but 
petty cares and sordid anxieties. Not all at once 
can the soul talk with God, be He ever so near. If 



REBECCA 



a» 



tlM heavenly language never has been leained, 
quick as is the spiritiLU scn»e in seizing the facts it 
needs, then the poor soul miut use the wonls and 
phrases it has lived on and grown into day by day. 
Poor MUs Mtnndal — held fast within the prison 
walls of her own nature, blind in the presence o( 
revelation because she had never used the spiritual 
eye. deaf to angelic voices because she had not used ■ 
the spiritual car. 

There came a morning when she asked for Re- 
becca. The door wu opened into the dim sick- 
room, and Rebecca stood there with the sunlight 
behind her, her hands full of sweet peas. Mtranda'l 
pale, sharp face, framed in its nightcap, looked hag- 
gard on the pillow, and her body was pitifuHy still 
under the counterpane. 

** Come in," she said ; ** I ain't dead yet. Don't 
mess up the bed with ihcm flowers, will ye I " 

" Oh, no I They 're going tn a glass pitcher." sak) 
Rebecca, turning to the watfastand as she tried to 
control her voice and stop the tears that sprang 
to her eyes. 

" Let me look at ye ; come closer. What dress 
are ye weuia' i " said the old sunt in her cracked, 
weak VOIC& 

•■ My blue catko." 

" Is your cashmere boldin' its color ? ** 

•■ Yes, aunt Miranda." 

" Do you keep it in a dark doMt buog oa tlM 
wrong aide, as I told yti'\ 



300 REBECCA 



"Always.** 

" Has your mother made her jdly ? '* 

" She has n't said.'* 

** She always had the knack o' writin' letters with 
nothin' in 'em. What *s Mark broke sence I *ve been 
sick?" 

^ Nothing at all, aunt Miranda.*' 

''Why, what's the matter with him? Gittin* 
lazy, ain't he ? How 's John tumin' out ? '* 

'* He 's going to be the best of us all" 

" I hope you don't slight things in the kitchen 
because I ain't there. Do you scakl the cofifee-pot 
and turn it upside down on the winder-sill ? " 

" Yes, aunt Miranda." 

"It's always 'yes' with you, and *yes' with 
Jane," groaned Miranda, trying to move her stiflf- 
ened body; "but all the time I lay here knowin* 
there *s things done the way I don't like 'em." 

There was a long pause, during which Rebecca 
sat down by the bedside and timidly touched her 
aunt's hand, her heart swelling with tender pity at 
the gaunt face and closed eyes. 

" I was dreadful ashamed to have you graduate 
in cheesecloth, Rebecca, but I could n't help it no- 
how. You '11 hear the reason some time, and know 
I tried to make it up to ye. I 'm afraid you was a 
laughin'-stock ! " 

" No," Rebecca answered. " Kver so many people 
said our dresses were the ver)' prettiest ; thej' looked 



REBECCA 



301 



like soft Uce. You 're not to be anxioDs about any- 
thing. Here I am all grown up and graduated, — 
number three in a class of twenty-two, aunt Mi- 
randa, — and good poaitiona offered me already. 
Look at me, big and strong and young, all ready to 
go into the world and show what you and aunt 
Jane Uave done for me. If you want me near, 1 11 
take the Edgewood school, so that I can be here 
nights and Sundays to help ; and if you get better, 
then I *11 go to Auguiita, — for that *s a hundred 
dollars mor^ with music lessons and other things 
beside." 

" You listen to me," said Miranda qoaveriagly. 
"Take the best place, regardless o' my tkkness. 
I 'd like to live long enough to know you *d paid off 
that mortgage, but 1 guess I shan't" 

Here she ceased abruptly, having talked more 
than she bad for weeks ; and Rebecca stc^e out of 
the room, to cry by herself and wonder if old age 
must be so grim, so hard, so unchastened and un- 
sweetened, as it slipped into the valley of the 
shadow. 

The days went on, and Miranda grew st ronger 
and stronger; her will seemed unasaaitable, and 
before long she could be moved into a chair by the 
window, her dominant thought being to arrive at 
such a condition of improvement that the doctor 
need not call more than once a week, Instead o( 
I tbc bOl, that WIS 



302 REBECCA 

ing to such a terrifying sum that it haunted her 

thoughts by day and dreams by night 

Little by little hope stole back into Rebecca's 
young heart Aunt Jane began to ** clear stan^ " 
her handkerchiefs and collars and purple muslin 
dress, so that she might be ready to go to Bruns- 
wick at any moment when the doctor pronounced 
Miranda well on the road to recovery. Everything 
beautiful was to happen in Brunswick if she 
could be there by August, — everything that heart 
could wish or imagination conceive, for she was to 
be Miss Emily's very own visitor, and sit at table 
with college professors and other great men. 

At length the day dawned when the few deai^ 
simple dresses were packed in the hair trunk, to- 
gether with her beloved coral necklace, her cheese- 
cloth graduating dress, her class pin, aunt Jane*s 
lace cape, and the one new hat, which she tried on 
every night before going to bed It was of white 
chip with a wreath of cheap white roses and green 
leaves, and cost between two and three dollars, an 
unprecedented sum in Rebecca's experience. The 
effect of its glories when worn with her nightdress 
was dazzling enough, but if ever it appeared in con- 
junction with the cheesecloth gown, Rebecca felt 
that even reverend professors might regard it with 
respect. It is probable indeed that any professorial 
gaze lucky enough to meet a pair of dark eyes shin- 
ing under that white rose garland would never have 
stopped at respect 1 




tltntXXA AND AUNT UIKANliA 



1 

1 



REBECCA 



30J 



I 



Theo. when til wu read/ and Abijah Fla^ at 
the door, came a. telcgnm from Haniiah : " Come 
at once. Mother has had bad accident. " 

Id lets than an hour Rebecca was started on her 
way to Sunnybrook. ber heart palpitating with fear 
as to what might be availing bcr at her journey*! 
end 

Death, at all events, was not there to meet her ; 
but something that looked at first only too much 
like tL Her mother had been standing on the hay- 
mow superintending some changes in the boLm, 
bad been seized with giddiness, they thought, and 
slipped. The right knee was fractured and the hack 
struined and hurt, but she was conscious and io ao 
Immediate danger, so Rebecca wrute, when she bad 
a moment to send auot jane tbe porticulan. 

"I don' know bow 'tis," grumbled Miranda, who 
was not able to sit up that day ; " but from a child 
I could never lay abed without Aurelia's gcttin' sick 
toa I don' know 's she could help fallin', though 
It ain't any place for a woman, — a haymow ; but 
if it bad n't been that, 't would 'a' been somethin' 
else. Aurclia was bom unfortunate. Now sbe'U 
probably be a cripple, and Rebecca 'U havi to nurse 
her instead at eaniiag a good income samewberca 
else." 

" Her first duty *s to her mother," said aunt Jane ; 
"I hope she'll always rtroem b cr thaL" 

" Nobody rcmembcn aayUung tbejr 'd ought tOt 



904 REBECCA 

—at •evc&teeq,*' reqxmded Ifinnda. ^Kcmtbtt 
I'm ftxong again, thece's dungs I want Co c tmaHer 
with yoi^ Jan^ dungs that are on nqr mind nlfht 
andday. We 've talked 'cm over bdSore; now well 
settle 'em. When I 'm laid awqff do yon want to 
take Aordia and the chiUien dom here to the hrick 
house? There's an awful passd of 'cm, — Anielia» 
Jenny, and Fanny ; but I won't have ICaik. Han- 
nah can take him ; I won't have a great boy stompm' 
out the carpets and ruinin' the furni t ur e^ thoo^ 
I know when I 'm dead I can't hinder yc^ if yoa 
make up your mind to do anything." 

«I shouldn't like to go against your feelings 
especially in laying out your money, Miranda," sakl 
Jane. 

" Don't tell Rebecca I 've willed her the brick 
house. She won't git it till I 'm gone, and I want to 
take my time 'bout dyin' and not be hurried off by 
them that's goin' to profit by it ; nor I don't want to 
be thanked, neither. I s'pose she 'U use the front 
stairs as common as the back and like as not have 
water brought into the kitchen, but mebbe when 
I 've been dead a few years I shan't mind. She sets 
such store by you, she *11 want you to have your home 
here as long 's you live, but anyway I 've wrote it 
down that way ; though Lawyer Bums's wills don't 
hold more 'n half the time He 's cheaper, but I 
guess it comes out jest the same in the end. I 
wan't goin' to have the fust man Rebecca picks up 
for a husband tumin' you ou'doors." 



REBECCA 



305 



Tben «u a long pause, during which Jane knit 
tUently, wiping the tears from her eyes from time 
to time, as she looted at the pitiful figure tying 
weakly on the pillows. Suddenly Miranda said slowly 
and feebly : — 

" I don' know after all but you might as wdl 
take Mark ; I s'pose there 's tame boys as well aa 
wild ones. There ain't a mite o' sense in havin* 
so many chDdren,but it's a turrible risk spUttin' up 
families and farmin' 'em out here 'n' there ; they 'd 
never come to no good, an' everybody would keep 
rememberin' their mother was a Sawyer. Now if 
you '11 draw down the curtin, I '11 try to aleq^" 



XXIX 

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER 

TWO months had gone by, —- two months of 
steady, fagging work; of cooking, wash- 
ing, ironing; of mending and caring for 
the three children, although Jenny was fast becom- 
ing a notable little housewife, quick, ready, and 
capable. They were months in which there had 
been many a weary night of watching by Aurelia's 
bedside ; of soothing and bandaging and rubbing ; 
of reading and nursitig, even of feeding and bath- 
ing. The ceaseless care was growing less now, and 
the family breathed more freely, for the mother's 
sigh of pain no longer came from the stifling bed- 
room, where, during a hot and humid August, 
Aurelia had lain, suffering with every breath she 
drew. There would be no question of walking for 
many a month to come, but blessings seemed to 
multiply when the blinds could be opened and the 
bed drawn near the window; when mother, with 
pillows behind her, could at least sit and watch the 
work going on, could smile at the past agony and 
forget the weary hours that had led to her present 
comparative ease and comfort 

No girl of seventeen can pass through such an 
ordeal and come out unchanged; no girl of Re> 




REBECCA 



307 



becca'i temperament could go throu|;h h without 
■ome inward repining and rebellion. She was dcun^ 
tasks in which abc could not be fulljr happy, — heavy 
and trying tuks, which perhaps she could never 
do with complete success or ntisfaction ; and like 
promise o[ Doctar to thirsty Ups was the vision o( 
}oys she had had to put aside for the perform- 
ance of dull daily duty. How brief, bow fleeting, 
had been those splendid visions when the uni- 
verse seemed open for her young strength to battle 
and triumph in ! How soon tbey had faded into 
the light □( common day I At first, tympalby and 
grief were so keen the thought of nothing but 
her mother's pain. No consciousness of self inter- 
posed between her and her filial service ; then, as 
the weeks passed, little blighted hopes b^an to ittr 
Kod acfae In ber breast ; defeated ambhlons raised 
their beads as if to sting her ; unattainable delights 
teased her by their very twamess ; by the narrow 
line of separation that lay between her and their 
realization. It ii easy, for the moment, 10 tread the 
narrow way, looking neither to the right nor left, 
upborne by the sense ol right doing ; but that first 
joy of scU-dcniat, the joy that is like fire in the 
blood, dies away ; the path seems drearier and the 
footstep* falter. Such a time came to Rebecca, and 
ber bright spirit Sagged when the letter was n- 
crived saying that ber poaUioo in Augusta had been 
filled. There WW amaciDoiuleapo< the heart tiwo. 



3o8 




REBECCA 



a beating of wings agunst the door of the cage, a 
longing for the freedom of the big world outside. 
It was the stirriDg of the powers within ber, though 
she called it by no such grand name; She fdt aj 
if the wind of destiny were blowing her flame 
hither and thither, burning, consuming ber, bat 
kindling nothing. All this meant one stormy night 
in her little room at Sunnybrook, but the dotidj 
blew over, the sun shone again, a rainbow stretched 
across the sky, while " hope clad in April green " 
smiled into her upturned face and beckoned ber oo, 
saying: — 

** Grow old along with me, 
Tbc bdl U fd to ba." 

Threads of joy ran in and out of the gray tBng^ff<1 
web of daily living. There was the attempt at odd 
moments to make the bare little house less bare by 
bringing in out-of-doors, taking a leaf from Nature's 
book and noting how she conceals ugliness wherever 
she finds it Then there was the satisfaction of bejng 
mistress of the poor domain ; of planning, govern- 
ing, deciding ; of bringing order out of chaos ; of im. 
planting gayety in the place of inert resignation to 
the ineWtable. Another element of comfort was the 
children's love, for they turned to her as flowers to 
the sun, drawing confidently on her fund of stories, 
terene tn the conviction that there was no limit to 
Rebecca's power of make-believe. In this, and in 
t greater things, little as she realized it, the law 



REBECCA 



S09 



o( compensation was working in ber behalf, for in 
tfaoM anziods dayi motlier and daughter found and 
knew each other as never before. A new sense waa 
bom in Rebecca as she hung over her mother's bed 
ot pain and unrest, — a sense that conies only of min- 
btering, a sense that grows only when the strong 
bend toward the weak. Ai for Aurelta, words could 
never have expreased her dumb happiness when the 
real re%Tlation of motherhood was vouchsafed her. 
In all the earlier years when her babies were youn^ 
Ciirking cares and anxieties darkened the Sreslde 
with their brooding wings. Then Rebecca had gone 
away, and in the long roonihs of absence her mind 
and soul had grown out of her mother's knowledge^ 
so that now, when AureUa bad time and strength 
to study her child, she was like some enchanting 
changeling. Aurdia and Hannah had gone on Id 
the duQ round and the common task, growing duller 
and duller ; but now, on a certain stage of life's 
journey, who should appear but this bewOdeiing 
being, who gave wings to thoughts that had only 
crept before; who brougbt color and grace and 
bannony into the dun brown texture of existence. 

You might bameu Rdiecca to the heaviest 
plough, and while she had youth 00 her side, she 
would always remember the green earth under her 



feet and the' blue sky over her bead. Her pbysica] 
eye saw the cake the was staring and the loaf she 
was kneading ; her phyiical car beard the kitchcD 



310 REBECCA 

fire crackling and the teakettle singing, but 
and anon her fancy mounted on pinions, rested it- 
self, renewed its strength in the upper air. The 
bare little farmhouse was a fixed fact, but she had 
many a palace into which she now and then with- 
drew ; palaces peopled with stirring and gallant fig- 
ures belonging to the world of romance; palaces 
not without their heavenly apparitions too, breath- 
ing celestial counsel Every time she retired to her 
citadel of dreams she came forth radiant and re> 
freshed, as one who has seen the evening star, or 
heard sweet music, or smdled the rose of joy. 

Aurelia could have understood the feeling of 
a narrow-minded and conventional hen who has 
brought a strange, intrepid duckling into the world ; 
but her situation was still more wonderful, for she 
could only compare her sensations to those of some 
quiet brown Dorking who has brooded an ordinary 
egg and hatched a bird of paradise. Such an idea 
had crossed her mind more than once during the 
past fortnight, and it flashed to and fro this mellow 
October morning when Rebecca came into the room 
with her arms full of goldenrod and flaming autumn 
leaves. 

"Just a hint of the fall styles, mother," she said, 
slipping the stem of a gorgeous red and yellow sap- 
ling between the mattress and the foot of the bed. 
"This was leaning over the pool, and I was afraid 
it would be vain if I left it there too long looking 



REBECCA 311 

It its beautiful reflection, so I took it amy from 
danger ; is n't it wonderful i How I wish I could 
carry one to poor aunt Miranda to^y I There 's 
never a flower in the brick house when I 'm 
away." 

It was a marvelous morning. The sun had climbed 
into a world that held in remembrance only a suc- 
cession of golden days and starlit nights. The air '. 
was fragrant with ripening fruit, and there was a 
mad little bird on a tree outside the door nearly 
bursting his throat with joy of living. He had for- 
gotten that summer was over, that winter must ever 
come ; and who could think of cold winds, bare 
boughs, or frozen streams on such a day ? A painted 
moth came in at the open window and settled on 
the tuft of brilliant leaves. Aurelia heard the bird 
and looked from the beauty of the glowing bush to 
her tall, splendid daughter, standing like young 
Spring with golden Autumn in her arms. 

Then suddenly she covered her eyes and cried, 
"I can't bear it! Here I tic chained to this bed, 
interfering with everything you want to do. It 's all 
wasted I All my saving and doing without ; all your 
hard study ; all Mirandy's outlay ; ever)'thing that 
we thought was going to be the making of you ! " 

" Mother, mother, don't talk so, don't think 
■0 1 " eiclaimed Rebecca, sitting down impetuously 
on the floor by the bed and dropping the goldenrod 
by her skie. " Why, mother, I 'm only a little put 



312 REBECCA 

seventeen! This person in a purple calico apcoo 
with flour on her nose is only the b^^innings erf me! 
Do you remember the young tree that John trans- 
planted ? We had a dry summer and a cold winter 
and it did n't grow a bit, nor show anything of aU 
we did for it ; then there was a good year and it 
made up for lost time. This is just my little * root- 
ing season/ mother, but don't go and believe my 
day is over, because it has n't bq^n ! The old 
maple by the well that 's in its hundredth year had 
new leaves this summer, so there must be hope for 
me at seventeen I " 

** You can put a brave face on it," sobbed Au- 
rclia, ** but you can't deceive me. You 've lost your 
place ; you '11 never see yoiu- friends here, and 
you 're nothing but a drudge ! " 

"I look like a drudge," said Rebecca mysteri- 
ously, with laughing eyes, " but I really am a prin- 
cess ; you must n't tell, but this is only a disguise ; 
I wear it for reasons of state. The king and queen 
who are at present occupying my throne are N-ery 
old and tottering, and are going to abdicate shortly 
in my favor. It *s rather a small kingdom, I sup- 
pose, as kingdoms go, so there is n't much struggle 
for it in royal circles, and you must n't expect to 
see a golden throne set with jewels. It ^ill prob- 
ably be only of ivory with a nice screen of peacock 
feathers for a background ; but you shall have a 
comfortable chair very near it, with qiantities oi 



REBECCA 313 

ilaves to do what they call in novels your ' lightest 
bidding.' " 

Aurelia smQed in spite of herself, and though not 
perhaps wholly deceived, she was comforted. 

" 1 only hope you won't have to wait too long for 
your thrones and your kingdoms, Rebecca." she 
•aid, "and that I shall have a sight of them before 
I die ; but life looks very hard and rough to me, 
what with your aunt Miranda a cripple at the brick 
house, me another here at the farm, you tied hand 
and foot, first with one and (hen with the other, 
to say nothing of Jenny and Fanny and Mark t 
You 've got something of your father's happy dis- 
position, or it would weigh on you as it does on 
me." 

" Why, mother ! " cried Rebecca, clasping bcr 
knees with her hands ; " why, mother, it 's enough 
joy just to be here in the world on a day like this ; 
to have the chance of seeing, feeling, doing, becom- 
ing I When you were seventeen, mother, was n't it 
good just to be alive ? You ha\'e n't foigotlen ? " 

" No," said Aurelia, " but I was n't so much alive 
as you are, never in the world." 

" I often think," Rebecca continued, walking to 
the window and looking out at the trees, — "I often 
think how dreadful it would be if I were not here 
at all. If Hannah had come, and then, instead of 
me, John ; John and Jenny and Fanny and the 
others, but no Rebecca ; never any Rebecca ! To 



314 



REBECCA 



be alive makes up for everything ; there ought to 
be fears in my heart, but there are n't ; something 
stronger sweeps them out^ something like a wind. 
Oh, seef There is Will driving up the lane^ 
mother, and he ought to have a letter from the 
brick house.*' 



XXX 

COOD-BV, SUN NY BROOK 

WILL MELVILLE drove up to the win- 
dow and, tossing a letter into Rebecca's 
lap, went off to the ham on an emnd. ' 
" Sister 's no worse, then," sighed Aurelia grate- 
fully, "or Jane would have telegraphed. See what 
she says." 

Rebecca opened the envelope and read in one 
fiash of an eye the whole brief page : — 

Your aunt Miranda passed away an hour agcn 
Come at once, if your mother is out of danger. I 
shall not have (he funeral till you are here. She 
died very suddenly and without any patn. Oh, Re- 
becca ! I long for you to I 

Aunt Jane. 

The force of habit was too strong, and even 
in the hour of death Jane had remembered that 
a telegram was twenty-five cents, and that Aure- 
lia would have to pay half a dollar for its deliv- 
ery. 

Rebecca burst into a passion of tears as she 
cried, " Poor, poor aunt Miranda I She is gone 
without taking a bit of comfort in life, and I 



3i6 REBECCA 

couldn't say good-by to her I Poor londy aimt 
Jane I What can I do, mother ? I feel torn in two, 
between you and the brick house." 

** You must go this very instant/' said Aurel]a» 
starting from her pillows. ** If I was to die while 
you were away, I would say the very same thing. 
Your aunts have done everything in the world for 
you, — more than I 've ever been able to do^ — and 
it is your tium to pay back some o' their kindness 
and show your gratitude. The doctor says I've 
turned the comer and I feel I have. Jenny can 
make out somehow, if Hannah 'U come over oooe 
a day." 

•* But, mother, I can*t go ! Who 11 turn you in 
bed ? " exclaimed Rebecca, walking the floor and 
wringing her hands distractedly. 

"It don't make any difference if I don't get 
turned," replied Aurelia stoically. "If a woman 
of my age and the mother of a family has n*t got 
sense enough not to slip ofif haymows, she 'd ought 
to suffer. Go put on your black dress and pack your 
bag. I 'd give a good deal if I was able to go to 
my sister's funeral and prove that I *ve forgotten 
and forgiven all she said when I was married. Her 
acts were softer *n her words, Mirandy's were, and 
she's made up to you for all she ever sinned 
against me 'n' your father ! And oh, Rebecca," she 
continued with quivering voice, "I remember so 
well when we were little girls together and she took 




REBECCA 



3'; 



luch pride in curling my hair ; uid mother time, 
when we were grown up, she lent me her best blue 
muslin : it wu when jrour father had asked me to 
lead the graod march with him at the Christmu 
dance, and I found out afterwards she thought be 'd 
intended to ask her ! " 

Here Aurelia broke down and wept bitterly ; for 
the recolledioB of the past had softened her heart 
and brought the comforting teari evta more cfiec* 
tually than the newi of her tistcr'a death. 

There was ealy an hour for preparation. Wilt 
would drive Rebecca to Temperance and lend 
Jenny back from ichool. He volunteered also to 
cigage a woman to sleep at the farm in cue Mrs. 
Randall should be worse at any time in the night 

Rebecca flew down over the hill to get a last pail 
of spring water, and as she lifted the bucket from 
the crystal depths and looked out over the glowing 
beauty of the autumn landscape, the saw a company 
of surveyors with their instruments making calcu- 
lations and laying lines tliat apparently crossed 
Sunnybrook at the favorite spot where Mirror Pool 
lay clear and placid, the yellow leaves on its surface 
no yellower than its sparkling sands. 

She caught her breath. " The time has come I " 
she thought. " I im saying good-by to Sunny- 
brook, and the golden gates that almost swung to- 
gether that last day in Warebara will close forever 
now. Good-by, dear brook ind UQs and neadoot; 



3i8 REBECCA 

you are going to see life too, so we must be hopeful 
and say to one another : — 

* ' Grow old along with nn^ 
The best Is yet to be."* 

Will Melville had seen the surveyors too, and 
had heard in the Temperance post-office that morn- 
ing the probable sum that Mrs. Randall would re- 
ceive from the railway company. He was in good 
spirits at his own improved prospects, for his farm 
was so placed that its value could be only increased 
by the new road; he was also relieved in mind 
that his wife's family would no longer be in dire 
poverty directly at his doorstep, so to speak. John 
could now be hurried forward and forced into the 
position of head of the family several years sooner 
than had been anticipated, so Hannah's husband 
was obliged to exercise great self-control or he 
would have whistled while he was driviitg Rebecca 
to the Temperance station. He could not under- 
stand her sad face or the tears that rolled silently 
down her cheeks from time to time ; for Hannah 
had always represented her aunt Miranda as an 
irascible, parsimonious old woman, who would be 
no loss to the world whenever she should elect to 
disappear from it. 

** Cheer up, Becky ! " he said, as he left her at the 
depot " You '11 find your mother sitting up when 
you come back, and the next thing you know the 



REBECCA 319 

wbcde family '11 be moving to some nice little bouie 
wherever your work is. Hiings will oever be so 
bad again as they have been this last year ; that 's 
what Hannah and I think ; " and he drove away to 
tell his wife the news. 

Adam Ladd was in the station and came up to 
Rebecca instantly, as she entered the door looking 
very unlike her bright sell 

"The Princess is sad this morning," be said, 
taking her hand. "Aladdin must nib the magic 
lamp; then the slave will appear, and these tears 
be dried in a trice." 

He spoke lightly, for he thought ber trouble 
was something connected with affairs at Sunny> 
brook, and that he could soon bring the smiles by 
telling her that the farm was sold and that ber 
mother was to receive a handsome price in return. 
He meant to remind her, too. that though she must 
leave the home of her youth, it was too remote a 
place to be a proper dwelling either for herself or 
for her lonely mother and the three younger chil- 
dren. He could hear her say as plainly as if it were 
yesterday, " I don't think one ever forgets the spot 
where one lived as a child." He could see the quaint 
httle figure sitting on the piazza at North Riverboro 
and watch it disappear in the lilac bushes when be 
gave (he memorable order for three hundred cakes 
of Rose-Red and Snow- White soap. 

A word or two »o<m told him that ber grief was 



320 REBECCA 

of another sort» and her mood was so absent, so 
sensitive and tearful, that he could only assure her 
of his sympathy and b^ that he might come soon 
to the brick house to see with his own eyes how 
she was faring. 

Adam thought, when he had put her on the train 
and taken his leave, that Rebecca was, in her sad 
dignity and gravity, more beautiful than he had ever 
seen her, — all-beautiful and all-womanly. But in that 
moment's speech with her he had looked into her 
eyes and they were still those of a child ; there was 
no knowledge of the world in their shining depths, 
no experience of men or women, no passion, nor com* 
prehension of it. He turned from the little country 
station to walk in the woods by the wayside until 
his own train should be leaving, and from time to 
time he threw himself under a tree to think and 
dream and look at the glory of the foliage. He 
had brought a new copy of The Arabian Nights for 
Rebecca, wishing to replace the well-worn old one 
that had been the delight of her girlhood ; but 
meeting her at such an inauspicious time, he had 
absently carried it away with him. He turned the 
pages idly until he came to the story of Aladdin 
and the Wonderful Lamp, and presently, in spite 
of his thirty-four years, the old tale held him spell- 
bound as it did in the days when he first read it as 
a boy. But there were certain paragraphs that espe- 
cially caught his eye and arrested his attention, — 




REBECCA 



3" 



P 



pBrapvpbs that he read and rcrew). finding in tbem 
he knew not what socret delight and significance. 
These were the qinintly turned phruet deKTibtng 
the effect on the once poor Atiddin o( bis won- 
derful riches, and those descanting upon the beauty 
and chann of the Sultan's daughter, the lYinceis 
Badroulboudour : — 

Not tmlj Ikotr wk» imtm AbMim wkm Mm 
ptaytd in tfu ttmtt likt m vtigmt^mJ did n»t ktuw 
Aim again ; tkiut tnl» had lem kim hut a tittU 
wkiU btftrt hardly hum Aim. t» mmcA mm Mis 
ftaturts altertd; tttcA wtrt tAg effrets of tkt lamf, 
as la frveurt by degmt tc tk*s* fnt» posstutd it, 
ffrfretifins agrttabU la lAt rami tAt rigAt tut tf it 
advamctd tAfm to. 

TAt Primttss was tkt mast Afouti/mt bnmtttt im 
lAr world ; ktr tyts nvnr larft, livrty, amd spar- 
kling; ker looks smtttamd m»dat ; Atr most was^ 
a JHSt proportiam amd without a fault ; htr mamtk 
small, Aor lips of a vrrmiliom rtd, amd charmsimffy 
agrtraklt symmtlty ; im a wcrd, all tAt ftmtmrtt tf 
ktr fart wtrt ptrftttly rrgular. It is mot tArrtfort 
tmrprisis^ that Aladdim, wAo had mtvtr sttm, amd 
was a ttramgtr to, so muimy thmrms, was daatltd. 
With all tAtso perfittioms lAe Primttts had so dwH- 
taU a skapt, so majestic am air. that tAo s^ltofkt* 
wot tufidtnt ft imspirt rtspoct. 



322 



REBECCA 



** Adorable Princess^** said Aladdin tc ker^ aecasU 
ingker, and saluting her respectfully . " if I have the 
misfortune to have displeased you by my boldness in 
aspiring to the possession of so lovely a creature, I 
must tell you that you ought to blame your bright 
eyes and charms^ not me** 

" Prince!* answered the Princess, " it is enough 
for me to liave seen you, to tell you that I obey with- 
out reluctance** 




AUNT MIRANDA'S APOLOGY 

WHEN Rcbecai alighted from the train 
at Maplewood and horned to llic post- 
ofEce where the stage was staoding, 
what was her joy to see uncle Jerrjr Cobb holding 
the horses' heads. 

" The reg'lar driver 'a sick," he exfJained, *' and 
when they sent for nic, thinks I to myself, my 
drivin' days is over, but Kebecky won't let the grass 
grow under her feet when she gits her aunt Jane's 
letter, and tike as not I '11 ketch her to^y ; or, if 
she gits delayed, to-morrow for certain. So here I 
be jest as I was more 'n six year aga Will you be 
a real lady passenger, or will ye sit op ia front 
with roe ? " 

Emotions of various sorts were all struggling 
together in the old man's bee, and the two or 
three bystanders were astounded when they saw 
the handsome, stAtcly girl fling herself on Ntr. 
Cobb's dusty shoulder crying like a child. "Oh, 
uncle Jerry t " she sobbed ; " dear uncle Jerry I It 's 
all so long ago, and so much has hif^ned, and 
we 've grown so old, and so much is gotng to hap- 
pen that 1 'm fairly frightened." 



324 REBECCA 

''There, there, lovey/' the old man whispered 
comfortingly, " we '11 be all alone on the stage, and 
we '11 talk things over 's we go along the road an' 
mebbe they won't look so bad." 

Every mile of the way was as familiar to Rebecca 
as to uncle Jerry; every watering-trough, grind- 
stone, red bam, weather-vane, duck-pond, and sandy 
brook. And all the time she was looking backward 
to the day, seemingly so long ago, when she sat on 
the box seat for the first time, her legs dangling in 
the air, too short to reach the footboard. She could 
smell the big bouquet of lilacs, see the pink-flounced 
parasol, feel the sti£Eness of the starched buCE calico 
and the hated prick of the black and yellow porcu- 
pine quills. The drive was taken almost in silence, 
but it was a sweet, comforting silence both to 
uncle Jerry and the girl. 

Then came the sight of Abijah Flagg shelling 
beans in the barn, and then the Perkins attic win- 
dows with a white cloth fluttering from them. She 
could spell Emma Jane's loving thought and wel- 
come in that little waving flag ; a word and a mes- 
sage sent to her just at the first moment when 
Riverboro chimneys rose into view ; something to 
warm her heart till they could meet. 

The brick house came next, looking just as of 
yore ; though it seemed to Rebecca as if death 
should have cast some mysterious spell over it 
There were the rolling meadows, the stately elms. 



REBECCA 325 

all yellow and brown now ; the glowing maples, 
the garden-betis bright with asters, and the holly- 
hocks, rising tall against the parlor windows ; only 
in place of the cheerful pinks and reds of the 
nodding stalks, with their gay rosettes of bloom, 
was a crape scarf holding the blinds together, and 
another on the sitting-room side, and another on 
the brass knocker of the brown-painted door. 

" Stop, uncle Jerry I Don't turn in at the side ; 
hand me my satchel, please ; drop me in the road 
and let me run up the path by myself. Then drive 
away quickly." 

At the noise and nimble of the approaching 
stage the house door opened from within, just as 
Rebecca closed the gate behind her. Aunt Jane 
came down the stone steps a changed woman, 
frail and broken and white. Rebecca held out her 
arms and the old aunt crept into them feebly, as 
she did on that day when she opened the grave of 
her buried love and showed the dead face, just for 
an instant, to a child. Warmth and strength and 
life flowed into the aged frame from the young one. 

" Rebecca," she said, raising her head, " before 
you go in to look at her, do you feci any bitterness 
over anything she ever said to you ? " 

Rebecca's eyes bLized reproach, almost anj^er. as 
she said chokingly: "Oh, aunt Jane! Could you 
believe it of mc ? I am going in with a heart brim- 
ful of gratitude I " 



316 REBECCA 

** She was a good woman, Rebecca ; she had a 
quick temper and a sharp tongue, but she wanted 
to do right, and she did it as near as she could. 
She never said so, but I 'm sure she was sorry for 
every hard word she spoke to you ; she did n't take 
'em back in life, but she acted so 't you 'd know her 
feeling when she was gone." 

" I told her before I left that she 'd been the mak- 
ing of me, just as mother says," sobbed Rebecca. 

" She was n't that," said Jane. " God made you 
in the first place, and you 've done considerable your- 
self to help Him along ; but she gave you the where- 
withal to work with, and that ain't to be despised ; 
specially when anybody pves up her own luxuries 
and pleasures to do it. Now let me tell you some- 
thing, Rebecca. Your aunt Mirandy *s willed all this 
to you, — the brick house and buildings and fumi- 
ture, and the land all round the house, as far *s you 
can see." 

Rebecca threw off her hat and put her hand to 
her heart, as she always did in moments of intense 
excitement. After a moment's silence she said : 
" Let me go in alone ; I want to talk to her ; I want 
to thank her ; I feel as if I could make her hear and 
feel and understand ! " 

Jane went back into the kitchen to the inexorable 
tasks that death has no power, even for a day, to 
blot from existence. He can stalk through dwelling 
after dwelling, leaving despair and desolation behind 



REBECCA 337 

bim, but the table must be laid, the dishes washed, 
the beds made, by somebody. 

Ten minutes later Rebecca came out from the 
Great Presence looking white and spent, but chas- 
tened and glorified. She sat in the quiet doorway, 
shaded from the little Riverboro world by the over- 
hanging elms. A wide sense of thankfulness and 
peace possessed her, as she looked at the autumn . 
landscape, listened to the rumble of a wagon on the 
bridge, and heard the call of the river as it dashed 
to the sea. She put up her hand softly and touched 
first the shining brass knocker and then the red 
bricks, glowing in the October sun. 

It was home ; her roof, her garden, her green 
acres, her dear trees ; it was shelter for the little 
family at Sunnybrook ; her mother would have once 
more the companionship of her sister and the friends 
of her girlhood ; the children would have teachers 
and playmates. 

And she ? tier own future was close-folded stiU ; 
folded and hidden in beautiful mists ; but she leaned 
her head against the sun-warmed door, and dot- 
ing her eyes, whispered, just as if she had been t 
child saying her prayers : " God bless aunt Miranda ; 
God bless the brick house that was ; God bless the 
brick house that is to be I "